Joel Pepala is a junior mathematics major from Zambia.
What inspired you to come to the U.S. and study at Goshen College?
The opportunity of a better education, the challenge of adapting to a new culture and the possibility of receiving scholarships for soccer and possibly playing professional soccer after college, if opportunities will allow.
What do you miss the most about Zambia?
I really miss my friends from Zambia, although I have friends here in the U.S.A. The interaction with friends from Zambia is different because of the culture we have grown up in.
Tell us about Zambian pop culture.
The most recognizable pop culture would be soccer. Everyone in Zambia [has] played soccer at least once in their lives and it is a social event where the whole nation unites as one. This was evident when we won the 2012 Africa Cup; a burden [was] lifted because we almost expected to win the competition even though it had eluded us for our entire history.
What are the popular foods in Zambia?
The staple food of Zambia is called nshima and it is prepared by mixing corn meal and water over a hot stove until it turns into a paste, which you use to dip into meat or vegetables and consume in unison.
What are the most celebrated holidays in Zambia and how are they celebrated?
Zambia is a Christian nation by our constitution, so all the Christian holidays like Easter and Christmas are well-observed. Other days that are important include our Independence Day which is October 24.
Usually Independence Day is celebrated with fireworks and having social times with friends and family. [At] Christmas most families celebrate by decorating their homes, and depending on which family one is from [the] exchange of gifts is not a far cry. Personally we do not exchange gifts in my family; rather, we have a huge gathering and cook food and socialize.
Can you tell us a little bit of historical background of your country?
Zambia was a British colony and gained independence on October 24, 1964. It was formally called Northern Rhodesia. The country ever since independence has been fighting poverty. The main export of Zambia is copper and has helped the economy in some ways. I am from Lusaka, which is the capital city of Zambia.
What has your experience at Goshen been like?
The most amazing thing about studying in Goshen is the environment. I have met the nicest people at Goshen, and the support of the community is unrivaled. Any day I need help there is someone to talk to or help, and the teachers want you to succeed. The other colleges I have been to, the people have not been as friendly and the teachers almost only care about their pay checks.
At the moment, due to my schedule, the only extracurricular activities I do are sports, and from time to time I have tutored high school children.
What are your future plans?
My future aspirations are to start a soccer academy and a Christian school in honor of my late mother who passed away a few years back.
Zambia – Points to Ponder
- Until 1964, Zambia was known as Northern Rhodesia.
- More than 70 languages are spoken in Zambia
- The country possesses part of the copper belt that stretches to DR Congo
- The Victoria Falls seperates Zambia and Zimbabwe.