COLUMBIA — After a big game, many athletes weave through the crowds of people to find their parents, who congratulate or console them.
The five international-born players on the Columbia College volleyball team find each other after matches for support.
“We always get back to each other, like the international kids,” said senior Vesna Trivunovic, who hails from Serbia.
The Cougars don’t ignore the fact that they are from different cultures. Instead, they use it to make them stronger.
“Each player comes from different culture,” said senior and Brazil native Paula Ferreira. “The way we learn is different, so I think mixing everything together, we can make maybe a better team.”
The Cougars embrace their differences as a way to get closer. For example, Trivunovic is learning “O Canada” from her Canadian teammates, junior Kelly Corkum and freshman Jordan Reid.
Before meeting senior Ola Shawky, some players imagined sand and camels when thinking of Egypt, but Shawky was able to share the realities of life in her country.
“I think they learned more about my religion, my tradition, my city. I think they know more about my country, and that’s good,” Shawky said.
Trivunovic was able to teach her teammates about her country as well. Some of them came to visit her during the Serbian New Year in January.
“They celebrate three days, but we only celebrated one,” Trivunovic said.
Laughter and jokes bring the team even closer, whether it is learning off-color words in other languages or being made fun of by the American-born players.
“It’s funny cause we’re always the ones getting picked on ... for not knowing what something is,” Reid said. “So I think we can find a common ground in that.”