By Elijah Nicholson-Messmer
“My visits to Texas are often the best,” said Sharman Sugumaran ’20. “I go home, spend time with my best friends and enjoy some free time away from school,” Sugumaran added.
A biology major, and midfield soccer player at Berea, Sugumaran said, “Although I consider Wichita Falls, Texas, home, it is not where I spent the most time growing up. For the first 16 years of my life, I had never been to another country, much less lived in one, Malaysia was all I knew.”
Growing up in Malaysia’s capital city of Kuala Lumpur, Sugumaran recalled playing indoor soccer in school. Sugumaran said, “I started off just kicking around a big bottle cap with some friends, soon enough, the whole school was divided into rival soccer gangs. The different gangs would play skirmishes against each other week to week and the two best teams would always play a big game at the end of every month.”
Sharman Sugumaran ’20
Sugumaran’s team, D7, was one of the two best teams—7 represents the number of team members, and D had no apparent meaning. “Although I did not have a large friend group growing up in Malaysia, it was fun to be able to play soccer with a group of my peers,” Sugumaran said.
Before leaving Malaysia for the United States, Sugumaran’s knowledge of American culture was limited. Sugumaran said, “The only way I could learn about America was through movies, the news, and my father’s experiences.” After about a year of living in Texas, it began to feel more like home.”
Sugumaran attributes his smooth transition of life in the United States to the early friends he made.“Since my arrival in the States, no matter where I’ve been, I have made friends with people that I could even consider family,” Sugumaran said.
After three years of living in Texas, the thought of leaving for college was a bittersweet experience for Sugumaran. “I was extremely excited when I discovered my letter of acceptance in our old, rusty mailbox. As excited as I was, I realized that this meant that I would be leaving everyone I knew and all that I was familiar with once again,” Sugumaran said.
Before arriving at Berea College, Sugumaran said, “I imagined the eastern Kentucky town to be a small, generally boring one. Well, that did not change much.”
After settling into my first year at Berea, I realized that the people at Berea were special. The people I have met, and the friends I have made at Berea turned out to be some of the best people I know.”
During the summer of 2017, Sugumaran traveled to Kuala Lumpur to spend time with his Malaysian family, a trip he takes yearly since his arrival in the States. “I enjoyed spending time with family and being away from the Berea bubble. However, to my surprise, I did miss Berea after a being away for months,” Sugumaran said.
From Kuala Lumpur to Wichita Falls and to Berea, “I do not define my home geographically, but by the relationships I build in any location,” Sugumaran added.