By Caitlin Giddens
When you’re at the basketball court’s 3-point line, it doesn’t matter what your first language is or where you were born. There’s one value that spans across foreign waters: the importance of teamwork.
In an effort to integrate international students into extra-curricular activities, the Center for International Education has created an international basketball team called the CIE Bears.
“The international department hasn’t ever ventured over to the SLC,” said Melanie Smith, international student relations coordinator at Baylor. “But a student came to me and said he wanted to make a team for international students. That’s what I love about Baylor. Students can come here and lead, even if they’re from a different country [PDF].”
Binzhou, China, sophomore DK Sun serves as captain of the CIE Bears starting the team after transferring to Baylor just seven months ago.
“He just got to Baylor, but DK saw an opportunity and took the initiative to get the team together,” Smith said. “He’s a motivator.”
The CIE Bears compete against other intramural teams, including residential halls and fraternity organizations.
“We play in the competitive league, which was a little above our caliber in the beginning of the semester,” Melbourne, Australia, senior Alex Cittadini said. “We lost our first two games, and we’re waiting to see who we play next. I haven’t played basketball since I was in elementary school in Australia. But we’re having fun, and that’s what is most important.”
While all the team members are international students from China and Australia, Sun said the best part of the CIE Bears is the fans: a melting pot of foreign and Baylor students supporting the team.
“I’ve met people through the CIE, but I saw there had never been an international sports team,” Sun said.
“We all know basketball is popular in America, but it’s played all over the world. And it’s not about winning or losing. It’s about making friends with international students and other Baylor students who we play or who watch the games.”
While working with the CIE, Smith has seen the struggle international students face at Baylor. She’s hopeful the formation of the international basketball team will help students feel more involved on campus.
“In other countries, all social networking is done in the classroom,” Smith said.
“So when international students come here, they feel isolated because students don’t find their social lives in the classrooms. They feel left out and ignored when students call their friends after class is over.”
The CIE Bears have laid the foundation for more international sports teams. Sun and Cittadini have discussed forming an international or exchange student soccer team later in the semester.
“Our basketball team is going to play next year, too,” Sun said. “And we hope to make more teams, like with the soccer team. There are more international students at Baylor. And that’s just more friends to be made.”