Strikes and Stories: International Students Experience Duckpin Bowling

November 9, 2023

At about two months into their year-long residential peacebuilding program, some of our international students experienced bowling for the first time. They only knew about bowling through phone apps or movies. Even though some bowling alleys are available in their countries, it is not a popular pastime. 

But this activity didn't include the classic bowling how they knew it; it was duckpin bowling. It is a variation of traditional ten-pin bowling with smaller pins. The balls lack finger holes, are around 4.5 inches in diameter, and weigh around 2.5 lb. It is typically played with three balls per frame and has a different scoring system. 

Their stories and laughter filled the streets of Hartford as they walked to the duckpin bowling alley near the HIU campus, fall leaves crunching underneath their steps. 

"I have seen leaves turn purple and maroon during the fall in Zimbabwe, but not yellow or orange," said an African student. 

While the student from Zimbabwe was amazed by the colors surrounding him, one student from Ghana said she is waiting to see what the winter will be like. "I can't believe this is not even winter yet; I like the sunny weather, not the cold," she said.  

For many students, American movies were a reference of what to expect from the United States.

A Nigerian student thinks America is a beautiful place, full of opportunities. "You can come here and be anything, like in the movies." 

"The design of the houses is the same as in the movies," someone said. 

While looking at the buildings, one student from Zimbabwe said, "I'm amazed with what they do with the wood; quite classic." In his country, most buildings are made of bricks. 

Before arriving in the USA, our Lebanese student thought she would have difficulty finding halal or traditional foods from her country, but she is glad she can find them almost anywhere in Hartford.

She was also shocked at how straightforward some Americans she has interacted with are. "They come and tell you what they want to say, such as [I'll talk to you later.]" They would soften the message with more explanation before that phrase in Lebanon. 

She said you can't quickly tell if someone is annoyed in Lebanon. Here in America, you can. People voice: I'm annoyed because of this or that. "And it is not the character, it is the culture," she added.  

Our Nigerian student said that in her country, if you go to a store and you don't like what you see, "You say, [I didn't find it], you don't say [I didn't like it]."

Our Lebanese student has also noticed that Americans say "sorry" often, sometimes for reasons people in her country would not say "sorry" for. For our Nigerian student is not that uncommon in her culture for people to say "sorry" with such frequency. 

Our Lebanese student thinks it is funny when she catches herself saying "sorry" and communicating straightforwardly with people from her country over video calls or text.  

A student from Ghana wishes to explore the USA and see things for herself. Since her arrival, she has always been indoors. "I'm not an introvert or extrovert; I'm in the middle," she said. "I don't have any place in mind; I just want to go to any place, look for an event, jump on a bus, and go."

They returned to campus, retracing the good moments they lived at the duckpin bowling alley. 

"Next time, we will go to the real bowling," they joked, listing what they knew about classic bowling.

Despite the small size of the balls, this duckpin bowling made their hands and shoulders hurt a little. They were curious to know if playing "real" bowling would hurt even more.




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