Arriving on Campus

This August, the Global UGRAD 2020-2021 cohort was very busy making their long-awaited trips to their U.S. host universities! We are so excited to welcome all of the Global UGRADs to the United States and look forward to watching the positive impact they make on their local and university communities.

In anticipation of arrivals, we asked the Global UGRADs about the special things they are bringing to the United States either as souvenirs to pass out to new friends, items they would never leave home without, and everything else unique and meaningful. Here are some of their answers.


Paulina’s Souvenirs from Paraguay

“As soon as I arrived on campus, I felt very welcomed and part of the community. At the same time, I was reminded of why I am here and where I come from through these souvenirs.

  • Tea with medicinal properties and cocido: they remind me of Paraguay, the wisdom and kindness that our history holds.
  • Key chains: I look at them and reflect on my roots and how important they are to me.
  • Chipá pirú: traditional and delicious snack from Paraguay.
  • Paraguayan flag: It represents so much to our country. Red symbolizes patriotism, courage, equality and justice. White symbolizes purity, unity and peace. Blue symbolizes love, knowledge, truth and freedom.
  • Paraguayan facemasks: because friendship means taking care of each other  in difficult times.”

-Paulina Cantero, Paraguay, Kent State University


Hiep’s Souvenirs from Vietnam

“I am so excited to introduce Vietnamese coffee and traditional food to my friends in the United States.”

-Hiep Trong Nguyen, Vietnam, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville



“Armenia is a nation with many wounds and sorrows. One of the symbols of those is Mount Ararat. It is mesmerizingly white, a perfectly shaped apex, and is visible to us from our windows. Yet, it is far from us, in the lands where we are no longer allowed to set foot. To me, the mount has two meanings. Yes, it symbolizes a huge feeling of sorrow and missing. Yet, it also depicts a promise—a promise to return to one’s origins with more strength and empowerment.

Anahit’s head ornament portraying Mount Ararat

In the search for the perfect souvenir to take with me to the United States, I came across this head ornament. It was widely used by Armenian women for many many years. Yet, this one that I found was unique – unique in the way that it has Mount Ararat portrayed on it. Without waiting for a second, I picked it up to pack with me for my trip. It will not only remind me of the people and places that I have left behind, but it will also encourage me to fulfill my promise of an empowered future.”

-Anahit Melkonyan, Armenia, Old Dominion University

Gulaiym’s Dombra


“The most important thing that I brought with me overseas and will serve as a reminder of who I am and why I am here is the Dombra. It is a national instrument, a quintessential piece of Kazakh culture and identity. The Kazakh people say: ‘a real Kazakh is not a Kazakh, a real Kazakh is a dombra.’ I hope with the help of Dombra, people from all around the globe could find out more about our culture!!”

-Gulaiym Bolatova, Kazakhstan, University of Southern Indiana


Fernando’s souvenirs from Panama

“These are the items I’m bringing with me to gift. The hats and the drums represent our Panamanian culture of festivity and traditions. The big hat is called ‘Sombrero Pinta’o’ and it represents people from the rural areas and their work. All of these items were made by Panamanian craftsmen. The coin purses are more commercial, and they have representations of the Panamanian culture.”

-Fernando Diaz, Panama, SUNY-Plattsburgh