American Culture, Baton Rouge, Life at LSU

LSU Global students bond on the basketball court

LSU Global students from several countries bond together on the basketball court.

Muhammad Zain Khan Khakwani felt and looked right at home on his residence hall’s basketball court less than 24 hours after arriving to the United States.

The petroleum engineering major from Pakistan played for about two hours with fellow LSU Global students and members of the program’s staff and visited the office the next morning eager to know when the group would do so again.

“I’ll see you later tonight when we play basketball?” Khakwani asked.

LSU Global students have played basketball at least once each week — other than during midterms — since summer orientation the final week of May.

A shared love of sports and various types of games has been among the common grounds that have helped ease the transition and make for fast friendships, they said.

“First of all, it was really strange,” Khakwani said. “I don’t know the culture of America, and I had not come here before. This is my first time in the U.S., but with time I’ve made friends here, like (Yousef Maher Tayeb) and Marwan (Ibrahim Adawi) and a lot of friends, who are like best friends. I also play sports with them. We play basketball and PlayStation and indoor games like table tennis.

“We’re enjoying a lot. It’s a good interaction with sports with them.”

Said Adawi: “(Basketball) has helped to exercise every week, and every week you will meet new people while you’re playing, which has helped a lot … It’s so easy. It’s ‘What are you going to do at 6 o’clock? Come Friday (to play) and meet new people.’ That’s it.”

Many of the students already knew of NBA stars such as Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry, LeBron James and Derrick Rose and enjoyed watching the final stages of the league’s playoffs together during their first weeks in the country.

Khakwani was also excited to hear last week that LSU star Ben Simmons had been selected No. 1 overall in the 2016 NBA Draft.

Tayeb added an appreciation for walking some of the same paths as not only Simmons, but former Tigers and NBA star Shaquille O’neal.

“For sure,” the mechanical engineering major from Saudi Arabia said. “He used to play with the Lakers and Celtics… It’s a really cool thing to go to the same school.”

But, mainly, the new friends enjoy actually taking to the court themselves.

“It’s a cool thing that you’re playing basketball with the community of LSU over here,” Tayeb said. “And it’s very helpful.”

The students are also eager to participate in other sports moving forward.

Khakwani hopes to begin playing more tennis — a game in which he competed in his home country’s youth championships growing up.

And he and Mohammed Habib Almuaybid both mentioned excitement for soccer.

LSU Global students have watched many of the UEFA Euro and Copa America tournament matches this month, said Almuaybid, whose favorite player is Cristiano Ronaldo.

Khakwani, whose favorite soccer and tennis players are Stephen Gerrard and Andy Murray, hopes the greater enrollment numbers on campus in the fall should present more opportunities to participate in those sports.

“In the fall, we are planning to play a lot of sports,” he said. “We will take part in the sports like tennis, soccer and a lot more.”

Learn more about iftar with LSU Global

Sports and games have been far from the only opportunity for LSU Global students to gather outside of class and spent time together on some common ground.

Click the image below for a look at the program’s recent iftar meals during the holy Islamic month of Ramadan.



Ami Chang

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