First PNG student at University of MontanaSeptember 3 2009 at 4:29 PM
Bashemath Xkenjik said some people still think her people live in trees.
Ive never seen a tree house, said the 17-year-old University of Montana freshman with a laugh.
Quite the contrary of tree house living, Xkenjik, who goes by Basiie, grew up playing around with her fathers laptop, though she does know how to climb a coconut tree. She is majoring in computer science at UM, where she plans to stay for the next four years. Although she speaks Pidgin and her mothers native language of Siuwai, all of her classes in Papua New Guinea were taught in English.
Xkenjik is the first UM student from Papua New Guinea, said Effie Koehn, director of Foreign Student and Scholar Services. There are almost 500 foreign students from around 75 different countries at UM, Koehn said. Besides Papua New Guinea, this is also the first year UM has students from Zimbabwe and Macedonia.
Papua New Guinea is a little bigger than the state of California, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea, which is just north of Australia. Xkenjik arrived in Montana about a week ago after an 18-hour flight that took her from a country of high mountains, dense rainforest and ocean coast to the city of Missoula. The biggest difference shes noticed so far is the smoother roads, she said.
As the youngest of seven brothers and sisters and the first to go to college in America, Xkenjik said that her family is excited that shes in America so they can come visit her. Xkenjik already has high hopes for a trip to Disneyworld, where shed particularly like to meet Stitch, the small furry Hawaiian creature from the movie Lilo and Stitch.
Similar to a character in that movie, Xkenjik has all the ease and coolness of a tropical islander. Wearing small dreadlocks above both of her ears and a knit red, yellow and green bag slung across her shoulders, she talked about her home country with a mellow sweetness.
Some holidays, such as Christmas, are observed in Papua New Guinea as they are in the states, but the difference is that we just normally drink beer to celebrate, she said.
But everything isnt fun and games in the country either.
[Some people] are kidnapping people and asking for ransom. They are watching too much movies, she said.
People once snuck into her familys house and stole everything, she said. And though her father is a cargo pilot and her mother works for a travel agency, most of the population lives in extreme poverty, with about 40 percent living on less than a dollar a day, according to information from the Australian government Web site.
Xkenjik grew up near the ocean, in the capital city of Port Moresby, a place abundant with some of her favorite foods: fresh fish and mussels. Along with the tasty seafood, she likes Vegemite, an Australian food paste made from yeast extract, and her countrys mu mu, which are meals prepared in a pot set in a hole outside and cooked with hot coals on top. Sweet potatoes, bananas, coconut milk and a nut called buai are some of her other favorites. The nut gives you red spit and a mild buzz affect like alcohol does, she said.
Xkenjik doesnt expect to find that food here, but said that she loves everything shes tried in the states so far.
At home, she played touch rugby, soccer, and netball, a sport similar to basketball, but without dribbling. Over the past two years she also took up flag football in China, where she was going to school because her father is stationed there as a cargo pilot. The Canadian/American international school she attended in China was what interested her in going to college in Missoula.
While Xkenjik has lived on three different continents and flown thousands of miles around the world, there is one thing Missoula has that every other place shes visited has been without: snow. Shes never seen it before.
This winter, you might just see her strapped into a pair of skis on the slopes, she said with a smile.
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|September 3 2009, 11:58 PM |
WHATDA PHUCK ISOL THISABOUT?
Re: WHADA PHUCK ISOL THISABOUT?
|September 4 2009, 3:41 AM |
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