Students at Bucknell have a new option for recreation thanks to an enterprising group of international students seeking to bond with their American classmates.
Yubo Du '21 said he hopes the badminton club that he and fellow Bucknell students from China have started will eventually take part in tournaments and compete against other schools — but for the time being, it's all about sharing his love of the sport.
"Since forming the club, I've met many friends from the U.S. and around the world," Du said. "It's made me more and more open and confident, not only in the gym but also in my studies."
Du, who captained his high school badminton team back in China, said he joined an informal group of players from his home country when he arrived at Bucknell. (Badminton is a popular and competitive sport throughout East Asia.) This semester, the group decided to take its play to the next level by seeking endorsement as a sanctioned student organization. They found an enthusiastic reception from Campus Activities & Programs, which provided financial support to purchase nets, rackets and shuttlecocks, and from Recreation Services, which recently painted badminton lines on the indoor tennis courts in Gerhard Fieldhouse to provide the club a suitable place to play.
"I was at first nervous and uncertain about forming a club as it seems that badminton is not really a popular sport in the states," Du said. "But the staff at Bucknell really encouraged my ideas and helped us promote the club, and I've been surprised to hear from so many domestic students. We're really glad to have them."
Now the group has more than 50 members, and is one of more than 150 student clubs and organizations at Bucknell. One student who recently joined club badminton is Kevin Smith '19, a mechanical engineering student who played the sport at his high school in Ithaca, N.Y. He said he was "ecstatic" to learn of the chance to continue competing at Bucknell.
"I feel pretty proud to be in the club," Smith said. "I love being able to show up and have these international students recognize me and invite me to play with them. I'm proud to know I can compete with such an experienced group of international players. Here I'm encouraged to play harder and push my limits."
Students with interests not captured by officially recognized student organizations are encouraged to register their clubs with Campus Activities & Programs, which can provide funding and additional resources for these groups.
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