Giving International Students A Taste Of Home


Casey Peters, Reporter

At Northeast Community College there are all sorts of opportunities for students to do something they enjoy. For some it is basketball or softball or some type of Ag, spiritual or journalism club. Despite the fact that Northeast does not have every sport or activity everyone wants, students still find a way to do what they love. There are intramural sports such as bowling or softball, but for three particular international students, they wanted soccer. Unfortunately, Northeast does not have a soccer team. Luckily Dr. Michael Chipps, President of Northeast had the answer.

Dr. Chipps introduced them to the Northeast soccer club at the College Center in Sioux City, which is about an hour and a half from the college. They have games on Sundays and play in the fall and during the spring. Since international students do not have a vehicle, transportation was an issue. This reporter had the opportunity to take these three students to Sioux City to play soccer and get to know them at the same time.

The three students are Aka Ulrich, Akounato (Geremy) Dable, and Gregory Barry. Barry is from Paris, France and says soccer is a very big part of his country. He is here at Northeast because his original college choice required a higher level of English than Barry can speak. Dable and Ulrich’s stories are the same. Barry mentioned that one of the biggest struggles about playing soccer in Nebraska is the weather. It is much colder here which makes some things more difficult. Dable is from Ivory Coast. There, it is warm all of the time so he also agreed with Barry that weather is one of the biggest issues. Dable said that another struggle is language. On the soccer field the coach speaks mostly English, but the majority of the team speaks Spanish, as did the coach. Dable, Barry and Ulrich all speak French as their first language.
They played for the Northeast team from Sept. 7 through Oct. 19. “Barry sustained an injury in the first game he played with us and just played one game. Aka and Geremy were key players for us and made significant contributions. In particular, Geremy improved our team a great deal because we had a good defensive team but lacked an explosive offensive player like Geremy,” said Jim Scholten Soccer Club Advisor and Student Support Specialist at the Northeast College Center in Sioux City.

Scholten said the team spent most of the summer in 10th or 11th place.



“However, when the three international students started playing for us, we climbed to 7th place; this was key because the top eight teams make the post season tournament.  Then in the eight team tournament, we finished fourth.” Scholten appreciates the Norfolk students and Dr. Chipps’ nephew who provided transportation every weekend so they could play.


Dr. Chipps absolutely loves the fact these students are so dedicated to soccer. “I have to smile when I think about this,” Chipps said. “The conversations these students and I have take place at the most wonderful times. Whenever I’m in the cafeteria I always try to sit with them and just talk about how much they’re enjoying it here.” Soccer is an important pastime not only to these specific students but other international students as well. There are fifty students from seventeen different countries at Northeast. Dr. Chipps said that most Northeast international students say they want to go back home and share what they have learned here to help their families and their countries.

Aka, Gregory, and Geremy