NORMAN — Country music and laughter filled the Cedar Crest Farm’s barn with life Thursday as hundreds of American and international students ate barbecue and danced on the soft dirt floor.
The University of Oklahoma’s Cousins program has been teaming up with the Leo and Doris Whinery family for 18 years to help bring students together and allow many the opportunity to visit an Oklahoma ranch.
Many students enjoyed that opportunity. They watched the horses graze in the pasture and some kicked off their shoes, burying their feet in the soft dirt while learning how to line dance.
The fast-paced country music had students in lines of five and six holding on to each other while circling around the barn.
“It’s really fantastic,” said Ozan Ozkan, a student with the Cousins program from Turkey. “This is my first time on a farm. They have horses; it has the feel of the real cowboy stuff.”
Ozkan and his friend, Furkan Budak, also from Turkey, are from Istanbul where they lived with around 15 million other people. The change from a large city to a smaller one like Norman was a good experience for them, they said.
Sakhile Mahlalela, of South Africa, also has been enjoying his time at OU.
“I like it. The campus is peaceful enough for me to be productive at school and lively enough to go out and have fun,” Mahlalela said. “It’s balanced.”
One student from England, Rich Dawson, has attended all of the OU Cousins’ events and said he was pleasantly surprised by his Oklahoma experience.
“I had a really enthusiastic Cousin,” Dawson said. “It’s a great program and good for integrating students into American culture.”
Dawson said he thought OU would be more of an Oklahoma cowboy experience, but it was much more liberal than what he expected.