Scavenger hunt helps international students discover downtown BG


BG Independent News

Students from around the world got a chance to explore downtown Bowling Green Wednesday afternoon.

The international students from Bowling Green State University came from many countries—France, Taiwan, China, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Zimbabwe, Netherlands – just to name a few.

A scavenger hunt organized by the Four Corners Center had them searching out all the treasures they could find in the downtown. That included the coffee shops, restaurants, gift shops, restaurants, and even the farmers market.

Teams of about half dozen students each buzzed about town. Members of one group said they didn’t have time to talk as they hurried off to find Homeworks.

Elisa Erbrech, a business student from Strasbourg, France, said, those on her team were too intent on winning to even stop and taste the cookies and coffee the Wood County Library had set out.

And they accomplished their mission. The team was the first to finish.

Marcia Salazar-Valentine, the director of International Programs and Partnerships, said the idea behind the scavenger hunt was to introduce the students, all of whom had just arrived at BGSU, to the downtown, and to introduce downtown businesses to the students.

“The international students are so important,” said Wendy Chambers, the director of the Wood County Convention Visitors Bureau, one of the Four Corners entities.  “We wanted to welcome them to the community.”

BGSU enrolls more than 1,000 foreign students.

“I think it takes a while because they have so much to do the first weeks,” Salazar-Valentine said. She remembers arriving as an international student in Bowling Green. “I came downtown and learned so much and felt so welcomed.”

She wanted others arriving here to have the same experience.

This was also a way for students to get to know each other. When the teams were put together, students could not be on the same team as someone else of their nationality, she said.

For Erbrech’s teammate, Aura Elabd, from Vienna, Austria, the scavenger hunt was a success.

She especially like finding out about the coffee houses, Flatlands and Grounds for Thought, and gift shops.

She spoke German with Amy Craft Ahrens, the proprietor of For Keeps, and was enchanted by the scents of Calico, Sage and Thyme. She’s sure to return to shop, she said.

Both Elabd and Erbrech were struck at first by how small the downtown was—both come from large cities. Both they also found a lot. “You can get everything here,” Elabd said.

And she said, unlike Vienna, the people here were very friendly.

Elabd, a Fulbright scholar in the Department of World Languages and Cultures, said she’s also interested in traveling to outlying areas. She’s already discovered Grand Rapids. “I liked it very much. Such a vintage town.”

Chambers said the businesses were all excited to welcome the students.

Other groups of first-year students were also evident trooping through the downtown.

Chambers said the Four Corners group would be interested in expanding the scavenger hunt to all first-year students. “So often we hear students don’t hear about downtown until later.”