Man of many talents
Erick Mbembati shares reasons, motivations behind campus involvement
By Rachel Luchmun
You may have noticed Erick Mbembati’s smiling portrait in various corridors around campus, or you may have met the man in one of the numerous campus activities. Mbembati has been involved in various aspects of campus, from president of the International Club to vice president of Student Senate and student ambassador.
Mbembati comes from the African nation of Tanzania and moved to Johnson County three years ago, at the age of 21.
“My uncle lives here and he invited me to come to school here,” Mbembati said. “He picked a school for me, and [the college] is relatively cheap compared to other universities.”
Mbembati says the biggest change for him was the culture.
“I believe everybody goes through culture shock,” Mbembati said. “For example, there is no public transport here. I had to rely on my uncle for transport. I remember I had to wait for hours.”
Another challenging aspect of his move to Kansas was the fact he had no friends, only his family. Mbembati decided to join clubs on campus in order to meet people.
The first club meeting he attended was the Intervarsity Club, before he was introduced to the International Club. Mbembati said the International Club helped him to bridge the culture shock.
“[In the International Club,] you feel like you’re not alone,” Mbembati said. “I met people from other countries and from here that were very welcoming. I did a presentation of my country [during a club meeting] and realized I could stand in front of people and talk, and people were interested. That was a defining moment for me.”
From his International Club experience, Mbembati was invited to talk in a panel for nursing students, focused on how cultural differences affect the way a patient wants to be treated. He described this experience as giving him a boost.
“The school itself is very open and welcoming,” Mbembati said. “Students can grow, they have unlimited resources here.”
Mbembati’s positive experience with clubs and organizations on campus prompted him to give back to the community by getting involved and helping other students, which motivated him to join Student Senate.
“I primarily became a student ambassador because I needed a job and international students are not allowed to work off-campus,” Mbembati said. “But it’s a nice job. You get to engage students, to help other students.”
Jillian Evans, student ambassador, has known Mbembati for one year.
“Erick is very energetic, helpful, positive,” Evans said. “I have never seen him have a bad day – he is always smiling.”
Mbembati’s positive attitude is visible down to the way he perceives his role on campus.
“Seeing my picture in the corridors reminds me of my responsibilities,” Mbembati said. “To me, being involved is more about serving other students than being ‘famous.’”
Mbembati plans to graduate next semester and transfer to the University of Kansas to study pharmacy. He says he might get involved over there as well, but plans on taking some time to get familiar with his new surroundings first.
Contact Rachel Luchmun, staff reporter at email@example.com