Kudzai Mhondiwa, a senior business marketing student, spoke on his experience as an international multinational student at Walla Walla University.
Mhondiwa’s earliest memories come from Zimbabwe, before his family moved to Ireland when he was five. “My childhood has been mostly an Irish upbringing, so I’ve gotten accustomed to the Irish traditions, the language, the people, [and] just everything that makes Ireland unique.”
When asked about his favorite parts of Ireland, Mhondiwa said, “I would probably say the culture. I really enjoy being around people who always have not only their own best interests but your best interests in mind. People are very welcoming and inviting.”
Mhondiwa first came to the United States when he was 16 to attend school at Georgia Cumberland Academy. He spent his junior and senior years there, “and the rest is history.”
When Mhondiwa first arrived in Georgia, he remembered being “overwhelmed by how commercialized the United States is.” However, it did not take him long to adjust and enjoy his time in Georgia.
Mhondiwa is now a senior at WWU. Sadly, he has not been home since Christmas of 2020. “I usually try to go back for summers and winters but that hasn’t worked out in my favor recently because of the COVID-19 restrictions.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic there was a “very bizarre feeling” for Mhondiwa. “I am in a country that I am not native to, and I’m having to adjust to not only a new economy and a new lifestyle ... but also a pandemic.” Every part of his life was affected, including his college experience. Despite this, he said, “I was able to push through and make it an opportunity to find my strength.”
However, Mhondiwa is still not immune to the stress and change of the last few years. In his words, “Europe has changed dramatically since I last left.” Events like the war in Ukraine and soaring gas prices have left their mark. In addition, “Things are just so much harder for young people in Ireland right now when it comes to housing. People are struggling to find housing after they leave secondary or college.” Hearing about all these things while living in the United States, Mhondiwa said, “It’s kind of told me how much changes when you’re gone, you know. The world doesn’t stop.”
Mhondiwa is graduating this spring and plans to find a professional marketing position in the United States. If that does not work out, “then I do have plans to go pursue that in Ireland,” he said.
He hopes that once he graduates, he can support future international students here at WWU. “[I want to] provide them the support that they need. Whether it’s assimilating to the new culture, whether it’s housing, whether it’s even the small things [like] figuring out where to go and what to do in the middle of Thanksgiving break.” Mhondiwa wants to “provide that platform for international students, so that they can have a seamless transition once they come to WWU.”
These last few years have been difficult, but Mhondiwa’s story is a good lesson in resilience. Instead of letting what is happening in the world define him, he has used it as an opportunity to grow and an inspiration to give back. 
What happens in life is out of our control but what we choose to do with it is up to us.