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Home away from home: International students follow their dreams and celebrate their heritage at Methodist University.


Fadhl Al-Names is a long way from home.
But he has no intention right now of leaving the United States to return to southern Yemen, his native land.
“The country’s in a war zone,” Al-Names says. “There’s nothing for me there.”
Al-Names has found a second home as a third-year student at Fayetteville’s Methodist University. He is pursuing his education in a foreign land to reach for a more promising future.
Al-Names is not alone. He recently gathered with other international students to talk about their experience at Methodist.
On March 23, they will celebrate their heritage in the annual “Pangea” stage show. The students will dress in the colorful, traditional attire of their homeland and sing, dance, read poetry, and spotlight their artwork. A fashion show has proven to be one of the evening’s highlights.
It’s all happening at a university that takes pride in welcoming a large number of students from countries across the world to come to Fayetteville in pursuit of a college degree and greater opportunity.
Methodist, with a student population of about 2,000, was recognized in 2022 as the No. 1 most diverse university in North Carolina by Niche University Rankings and Reviews. In a national ranking, Methodist came in a 56th most diverse.
The rankings are determined using statistics and student reviews from the U.S. Department of Education.
‘Success stories’
Minnu Paul, director of the Global Education Office at Methodist, has been with the university for 6½ years.
“We do conduct a considerable amount of recruitment to make students aware of our presence,” Paul says. “Additionally, we have developed a reputation through the students that pursue their degree and graduate from the university. The success stories surely draw students to the school.”
According to Paul, 89 students from 54 different countries now attend Methodist University.
Methodist has had a history of presidents that valued global discourse among students from diverse backgrounds and nationalities, Paul says.
“Therefore, they believed in injecting resources to find avenues and opportunities to recruit internationally while hiring faculty and staff that can nourish the platform to create global citizens,” says Paul, who is 33 and a native of India.
Since the 1960s, students from all continents — except Antarctica — have enrolled at Methodist.
Paul says the Global Education Office helps guide students through their transition to the United States as well as to the community and on campus.
“We advocate for international student-friendly policies within the campus,” she says. “We support their social development through workshops on budget management, finding internships, preparing for life beyond graduation, etc. We also support students through hard times such as hurricanes or pandemics.”
Helping hands
Al-Names says he expects to reach his potential with an education obtained in the United States.
“So, I came here first for the school,” Al-Names says. “I have a friend from Yemen here at the same time. This school gave me the opportunity to see myself. I never believed I could be out of the country.”
He said his major — business analytics — is being taught for the first time this year at Methodist.
Al-Names, who is president of the eight-member executive board of the international student association, said the Global Education Office has helped him since his arrival on campus.
“It has a lot of goals,” he says. “One is to make sure international students have a place to go. They take care of admissions for international students and who comes from our country.”
Astha Khatri, 23, has been a Methodist student for roughly four years.
“I got a good scholarship,” says the native of Nepal. “It’s a smaller school. It’s easier to ask questions. It’s peaceful.”
Khatri is a double major, pursuing business administration and financial economics. Her minor is business and entrepreneurship.
“Pangea,” she says, helps students share their heritage.
“It’s a festival where people try to present our own culture like here. I present my traditional clothes and my country through me.”
She hopes to become a manager or perhaps a CEO for a nonprofit organization.
“Sometimes, I miss home,” she says. “I call and talk to Manno. I come and talk to her. We get to know each other’s countries. We learn things from them. … We get to know America and, in turn, we are making ourselves better.”
Methodist University students from countries worldwide will dress in the colorful and traditional attire of their homelands to perform music, dances, and poetry readings; spotlight their artwork; and present a fashion show.
The show will begin at 8 p.m. March 23 at Huff Concert Hall, 5400 Ramsey St.
Admission is free.