“Oklahoma itself has been fantastic,” he said. “My favorite thing is the blue sky.”
Dawson was lucky to be matched up with an enthusiastic Cousin through the program. Several others said their Cousins often only met with them once or not at all, but that did not ruin their experiences with the program or at OU.
Matthias Schonbachler, of Switzerland, said everyone in the OU Cousins program has been nice and has helped them get to know Oklahoma.
“I’ve met lots of people and it’s been great on a personal and professional level. I wouldn’t change this experience for anything,” said Rianna Nelson, of Spain.
“I agree with that. People ask me, ‘Why Oklahoma?’ but I wouldn’t want to go to any other place,” Schonbachler said. “OU is amazing. They take care of you and look out for you.”
Many OU students attending were not with the OU Cousins program. OU sophomore Payne Parker heard about the event through friends. As a Texas native, he wanted to be where there was two-stepping and barbecue.
“I think it’s a cool experience and I wanted to see international students interacting with what I grew up with,” Parker said.
The event also brought back a former Cousin, OU sophomore Meghan Gallagher. She said she enjoys being around everybody and, as an international studies major, the event allows her to interact with all the different cultures and try to show them ours.
This was the first time the Whinery family has hosted the event without one of the driving forces behind it, Leo Whinery Sr. The professor emeritus of law at OU died in November, but the Whinery family decided to stick with tradition and dedicated this year’s event to him.
“He would’ve wanted it that way,” said Whinery’s wife, Doris.