Born in Sydney, Australia, the brother-sister duo, Madison and Zach Arnold, are leaving their impact on Edmond, OK and Oklahoma Christian University by starting the Australian/European Association on campus.
Growing up with a father who worked for the UPS, the siblings traveled to over 27 countries throughout their lifetime. Madison said they lived in Edmond, OK from 2003-2006 and it was one of their favorite places to live. After moving to Australia following high school, Madison made the choice to transfer to Oklahoma Christian and her brother followed.
“I went to some camps here as a kid to play basketball,” Madison said. “I was trying to sort out my schedule to go back to school in Australia, but I got my acceptance letter to OC. I felt like it was a God-thing and OC was the best fit. Now I am at U House as an RA.”
With dual citizenship in the U.S. and Australia, the siblings have a unique perspective on culture. This perspective led Student Government Association (SGA) President Tyler Clark to approach the siblings about a gap in the International Student Council (ISC) at Oklahoma Christian.
“We met with the leaders of ISC and they thought it would be a great idea,” Madison said. “We had to have a committee of five individuals to start, so we reached out. We actually found a lot of our members from the athletic rosters and connections we already had. You easily connect with those people and you don’t forget them.”
Funded by SGA, the Australian/European Association began Oct. 18 with a meeting in the Brew. Five members attended multicultural night in October and the association has since grown to seven members, which both Madison and Zach said is an impressive size for a small campus.
“I would like to have at least one person from each country become a member,” Madison said. “Having an individual from Croatia here would be great, for example. I would like each country to have a voice and a say in what we are doing.”
Students with any Australian or European background are encouraged to attend and join the association. In addition, students of other nationalities who are interested in Australian or European studies and culture are welcome. Any non-Australian/European descent individual must be voted into the club by a two-thirds majority, which would be very easy, Zach said.
Goals of the association include creating an environment that feels like home for new students coming to America from other countries, as well as bring knowledge and awareness to the various different cultures represented on campus.
“It would be great for new students to have a group where they can come and talk about the difficulties of moving,” Zach said. “They can talk about the weird questions people ask and what they are having a hard time with transitioning.”