Column: Being a Kansas Wesleyan Filipino Americano

Written by on September 9, 2023

By Elijah Resano / Staff Writer

There was once a time where I found myself in a tropical island in the mysterious region of southeast Asia, in the great archipelago that is the Philippines. During that time, I didn’t dare to think that I would end up in some Kansas micropolis that I’d never heard of. What existed in Kansas to me then included nothing more than wheat fields and barns.

It was a scary transition.

To go from somewhere where you knew how to get around, how to work with people, how to haggle, gossip or throw a fiesta to being mentally challenged by a Walmart self-checkout machine. But I didn’t let any of that hinder me in whatever it was I was trying to accomplish, whether it was school or life. Settling in was the first step, and I wanted to make Salina my new home.

I found very quickly that Salina sits in a perfect sweet spot between being a city and a rural town—a Midwest Goldilocks zone. Although it doesn’t have a population size of Lawrence, KS, or a skyline of Kansas City, MO, people have access to many amenities most smaller towns don’t. That’s what I love about this town. It’s small enough that I don’t have to experience the polluted air and crowded spaces of big cities, but also big enough that there’s always something cool to do.

When it came to choosing colleges, however, it was a no-brainer that I’d go right here, to Kansas Wesleyan University. It was right where home is.

I vividly remember the first time I stepped into the student activities center; I was delighted to see the adorned international flags. A map of the world could be found in the student admissions office with flags plopped in countries where KWU Coyotes hail from, and I was surprised to see the map littered with flags from all over. I was baffled with the number of foreign students, currently sitting at 39, that were willing to go from the farthest reaches of the world to end up studying here, but ever since I’ve set foot on campus, I can understand why.

KWU embraces its students regardless of where they’re from.

When it comes to diversity, KWU supports it. It acknowledges that the unique differences between individuals is a thing to be celebrated. That’s evident from the passionate and kind faculty that I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with, to the events that KWU partake in to commemorate outside culture and history.

I get mistaken to be an American a lot, perhaps with the way that I sound. Which is why I find it more amusing when I tell them I have only been in this country for a little over a year. But it’s in those small moments where I find that most people in and around this campus are some of the friendliest and most curious I have ever met. Every step of the way I had someone to help me out, or intrigued with who I am.

Within this small campus, located in a small-big town anyone outside of Kansas has probably never heard of, a small potpourri of motley individuals each carrying their own slice of the world are fostered; where they are welcome to be themselves, where they are celebrated for their culture and where they are guided through the intense landscape that is America.

In the occasional video calls I receive from my family back home, I report what it’s like living here. They are proud that I have acclimated well to this unusual lifestyle, so much so that my relatives have coined me a new nickname—the Filipino Americano.

Elijah Resano is an Iloilo City, Philippines,  freshman who majors in Physics with an engineering concentration.

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