Lost and Found is a series of animated videos where international students
share their journeys, talking about what they’ve left behind
and one thing that helped them forge a new life. 



As a child growing up in Chongqing, often referred to as “the mountain city of China,” Zhang fell in love with traditional Chinese dance. When she arrived as a freshman, she joined the Dance Theater Group, and a year later became a member of BU’s first traditional Chinese dance organization, Verge Dance Company. Next, she took classes in modern dance, hip-hop, and tap.

Last spring, following a difficult breakup, Zhang found consolation in dance, choreographing a piece that could express both the heartbreak she felt and the return of happiness she eventually experienced.

“I needed a way to deal with my own emotions,” she says. “I like dancing because I never feel alone. It’s a way of discovering who I am on the inside.”

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Friends on his floor, who knew how much he loved to sing, persuaded Mboweni to get involved with the Inner Strength Gospel Choir, but after just one rehearsal, he decided that “this is not for me.” The small number of men made him feel self-conscious. But friends from the choir thought he was making a mistake and asked one of them to visit and persuade him to give it another try.

Today, the accomplished tenor is president of the choir. He says performing with the group provides a sense of comfort, far from family. “It gives me the satisfaction both on an emotional and a spiritual level that I haven’t experienced elsewhere…I can be myself.” Perhaps most important, he says, the choir has become “kind of a family away from home.”

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Nathan Chow - Singapore

We begin our series with the story of Nathan Chow (Questrom’17), who was born in Maryland, but moved to Singapore when he was three and grew up there. He attended a small international school and developed a love of basketball, a sport that he found transcends language and cultural barriers.

Chow’s first glimpse of Boston was at BU’s final freshman orientation, and he was immediately overwhelmed by the University’s size. Worse, he felt like an outsider. That changed his second day on campus when he went to FitRec. “My jaw dropped,” Chow says. “It had the nicest court I think I’d ever seen.” He joined a pickup game, and he scored the winning point. Basketball became a way of getting to know people. Soon, he says, came the realization: “Man, it’s going to be good here.”

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Part two of our series is the story of Deniz Hallik (CAS’19), who traveled from her home in Ankara, Turkey, to fulfill a long-held ambition: attending college in the United States. She says she’d never imagined “how big of a change it would be” coming to Boston and BU.

Once on campus, the cultural and language barriers Hallik encountered made her feel lonely for the first time in her life. She was crying frequently and unable to get out of bed. One day, she saw a Student Health Services (SHS) poster listing the symptoms of anxiety and depression on the bulletin board on her Warren Towers floor. “I had every single symptom,” she recalls. A friend visiting from Turkey urged her to call SHS, and she began therapy and medication.

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She grew up in San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, where she attended a small private American school. When it came time to apply to college, her grandfather Mario Bicard Bloch (CAS’60) urged her to apply to BU, his alma mater. Her mother, Leonie Bicard de Valdez (CAS’83), is also a BU alum.

When Eleonora arrived on campus, she was stunned by the size of the University. She’d known all of the 100 students in her high school class and had been captain of the volleyball team. She tried unsuccessfully to join BU’s volleyball club team, and other efforts to make friends were difficult.

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Shen says she has spent a lot of time since arriving at BU asking herself: “Who am I and where do I come from?” She’s struggled with these questions as she seeks to find her own community here.

Shen sometimes imagines herself as a machine with two settings: at BU, the setting is on English. When she’s in the United States (she went to a private high school in Fort Worth), she says, she thinks, speaks—even dreams—in English, but when she’s home in her native Zhengzhou, the setting is on Mandarin and she finds herself less rushed, more introspective.

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