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A Random Roommate Assignment Creates An Unlikely Group Of Friends

Xi, Speaks, Moreno and Smith share a meal
Patrick Smith
Xi, Speaks, Moreno and Smith share a meal

The University of Oklahoma is a multicultural community filled with people from many different backgrounds. OU students Flavio Moreno, Skyler Speaks, Xi Xehui and I became unlikely friends after being placed in the same apartment at the beginning of the school year.

Speaks and I aren’t too far from home, coming from Oklahoma City and Dallas respectively, but Xi and Moreno traveled a long way to attend OU. Moreno came to OU from Guatemala in 2011 to get a Masters degree in Aerospace Engineering. The thing that has surprised him most about Oklahoma is its unpredictable weather.

“I soon realized that people really mean when they say ‘If you don’t like the weather just wait,’” Moreno said. “It’s crazy. Back home it’s pretty much the same weather the whole year.”

Xi, who is doing post-doctorate work in biophysics, is from China. He was also struck by the weather, but for a different reason.

“The weather is very clean and you can see a lot of stars in the night,” Xi said. “In Beijing, you can’t even see less than 10 stars in the night, it’s very different from here.”

Xi has only been in the United States for three months, but in that time has seen friendliness from his new community he doesn’t remember seeing back in China. He remembers receiving help from strangers in his first two weeks in Oklahoma, something he hadn’t expected.

“Before I came to America I see a lot of news about American, you don’t know your neighbors and perhaps your neighbor was a raper or even some killer,” Xi said. “But I’ve found out that it’s quite different.”

Xi’s presence has altered the way Psychology student Skyler Speaks views the place he’s lived his whole life

“He talks about how much more productive America is than China and that’s kind of reassuring that we’re not going completely downhill as a country,” Speaks said.

I’m a senior studying journalism and I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to meet people like this during my time at OU because they allow me to see the world from different points of view. 

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