March 3, 2024

International students spend a day snow tubing in Big Bear five minutes away from Big Bear Lake as part of a yearly tradition through California Baptist University’s International Center. For many of the international students, this was their first time seeing snow. International students had priority spots, but traditional CBU students were also allowed on the trip. The students tackled sledding the hills in single snow tubes and together in groups. Courtney Coleman | Banner

Bundled up in layers of warm clothes, a group of around 30 students headed up to Big Bear on Jan. 24 to spend the afternoon playing in the snow, a cold climate unfamiliar to California Baptist University.

The day’s festivities took place at Big Bear Snow Play, a 5-minute drive from the tip of Big Bear Lake.

CBU students spent most of the day snow tubing, while trying to keep warm in the 42-degree weather.

Snow tubing consists of sitting in an inner tube and sliding down a slope of snow. Snow Play features six different slopes, each with its own combination of dips and bumps.

Students sought adventure by either braving the hills on their own or tackling it in groups. Some even took the riskier approach, riding down on their stomachs or while standing up.

The event, put on by the International Center, was geared specifically toward international students as an exciting way to strengthen their bonds with one another while exploring one of the many diverse climates in Southern California.

Non-international students were invited to tag along, as well; however, priority spots on the trip were reserved for international students.

Snow tubing comes as the first of six major events held over the course of the semester with international students in consideration.

Three of these events are tailored solely for international students, while the other three are open to the rest of the student body to participate and experience other cultures.

“The things that we do with international students are sometimes their first time doing it,” said Kyle Roche, graduate assistant for the International Center. “Sometimes it’s their first time seeing the snow and experiencing the snow. Some of these things that for us as Americans, or Southern Californians, are just normal or at least relatively easy to get to.”

One of these first-timers was Aurore Inyange, sophomore biochemistry and molecular biology major from Rwanda.

Inyange praised the International Center for its efforts to integrate students into life in the United States through trip and activities like the snow day at Big Bear, along with weekly gatherings like prayer groups and dinner parties featuring native cuisines.

However, trips focused around American culture often transform Southern California into a home away from home for many international students.

“It makes us international students part of the American culture, the American experience,” Inyange said. “It helps us not feel like we lag behind.”

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