The Pony Express

International teammates bond through basketball

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This is not a usual article. This is an interview! As you know our team consists of six internationals players. There are four of us who are sophomores. I decided to interview my three teammates from different countries and ask them a few questions about homesickness, new country and language barrier. Let’s see what they answered! Maybe it will help other international student who came to America.

1)      Introduce yourself.

KK: My name is Ekaterina Karchevskaya, but everybody calls me KK. I am from Belarus and I am 19 years old.

Nene: My name is Okpe Patience Nene, and I am from Nigeria.

Stef: My name is Stefany Lourenco, I am 20 years old, and I am from Brazil.


2)      Why did you decide to come to the US?

KK: Since I started to play basketball, coaches told me that America is the best place for this sport. So I knew, I have to be there.

Nene: I wanted to have experience about College basketball. Also, I wanted to improve as a player.

Stef: When I was in Brazil one coach from America saw me play and he told me that I have to play in the US. I could not miss this chance.


3)      How has changed your life after arriving to America?

KK: My first year was different because I felt a big difference in mentality and culture, but I started to change some things in my mind to feel comfortable here in the US. I became “nicer” to people, because everybody here is so friendly.

Nene: American basketball gave me another point of view on this game.

Stef: Everything has changed. I started to see world in a different way. I learned new country, new culture and new language. I became open to everything new.


4)      What do you like in the USA? (different from your country)

KK: The most I like how people want to help each other, even if they are just strangers. I do not know what I could do without all the people who helped me during 2 years in America.

Nene: Actually, I am still trying to figure out what I like here in the States.

Stef: I like that here in America you can buy phones, laptops and other technical stuff cheaper than in my country. Also, I like holidays like Thanksgiving Day or Halloween which we do not have in Brazil and the way how Americans celebrate them.


5)      Do you miss your home country and family and how often do you communicate with them?

KK: Oh, I am on my phone 24/7 with my mom, best friend and boyfriend. We have 9 hours time difference, but I am trying to do my best to talk to them every day.

Nene: Of course I miss my country and most importantly my family. Staying so far from my family is the hardest thing for me. I communicate with my mom once in two months. Also, I miss my Nigerian food. Rice and chicken are the best!

Stef: I miss my family and my home so much! Thanks to social media I can talk to them every day.


6)      How hard was for you to adapt to new country, culture and language?

KK: I already knew English when I came to America, so I was fine. About culture and language, I can say that I was not the only one from Europe, there was Dasha from Russia who has the same culture and language and we were together, and it was easier to adapt to everything new when you are not alone.

Nene: It is very hard for me. Honestly, I still have not adapted to the culture in the United States.

Stef: When I came to America I did not know English and everything was new for me. It was not easy to adapt to this country and I think, I am still working on it.


7)      What do you plan to do after graduating from Panola?

KK: I do not know yet. I have many different plans and I am trying to figure out what will work better for me.

Nene: I cannot really tell what to do next because God has the final word. My future is in God’s hands, and I do not have a right to decide.

Stef: I want to go to the university and finish my education in America.


8)      Who are you thankful the most for these two years which you spent in the US?

KK: First, Coach Kite and his family. They brought us, internationals, to their home and treated like family. Also, Coach Hernandez and Coach Hudson because they spent a lot of time working out, talking and teaching me a lot of things. In addition, all my professors because they are amazing, they spent extra time with me to help with my classes.

Nene: First of all, thanks to God because without him I would not be here. Secondly, I would like to say a big thank you to Panola, my coaches, teammates, professors and staff here in Panola for giving me the opportunity to represent Panola College in basketball.

Stef: People who gave me support, My coaches, my teammates, my family and God.


As you can see everybody misses their home country and family, for everybody was pretty hard to adapt to new country, culture, and language. But they did it! There is nothing impossible! I am so proud of my teammates, and I want to say them thanks a lot for the interview and honest answers.

If you have any questions, feel free to text me to my e-mail: [email protected]

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