International student Ahmad Shah

By Jason Ruckman

February 13, 2013

We often think of MWSU as a school with students primarily from this area or at least the state, but as our university grows, so does the diversity of its inhabitants. [caption id="attachment_14948" align="alignleft" width="150"]Facebook photo Shan captures the campus behind his lens as he makes Western his home away from home.[/caption] Ahmad Shah is an international student from Afghanistan who came to Missouri Western in the spring of 2009. Growing up in Pakistan and Afghanistan, he attended an international high school where he would meet people from 27 different countries, learn six languages, and soon after, decide to continue his studies in the United States. Upon arriving to the US in 2009, Shah said there was not as much of a culture shock for him because of his experiences with the American teachers he had in high school. “The principal in high school was from St. Joseph and recommended the university to me,” Shah said. He currently is majoring in political science and plans to graduate this spring, and follow that up with getting his Master's Degree in the US as well. Before that though, he will continue residing as president of the international club and working with his internship at the division of student affairs. One responsibility as president of the international club is helping all new international students get on their feet when first arriving to Western. Shah said he likes to show new students their way around and how to deal with issues they run into. “My first priority to the new internationals is that I want to make them feel as comfortable as possible so they don’t feel they’re in such a different and overwhelming place,” Shah said, while emphasizing that their experience here is all about how much you put into it.” With all the organizations and classes Shah is involved in, he says he still manages to have social time and enjoys campus activities such as going to football games or volleyball matches. “During the day, we go to class and everything," Shah said, "but at the end of the day, we like to sit down and discuss our personal issues, problems, happiness and sadness. We must always have time for that.” Carl Osterlund used to live with Shah, so he has a small idea of the struggles that Shah has gone through in the United States. He grew to respect Shah because he gave him the same in return. “Living with Ahmad was easy since he was generous about letting me live my own way,” Osterlund said. After finishing his degree at Western and then attaining his Master's Degree, Shah plans to possibly work somewhere in the Midwest for a few years and then return to Afghanistan to work and be closer to his family. His degree will push him toward the field of politics and working with the government, but he adds that he would enjoy working with humanitarian organizations as well. Shah said that the word “appreciation” was not big enough to convey his gratitude for his stay here and for all those who have supported him at Western.