Island life: when paradise is home

Kandice Johnson

Aruba: A small island off the coast of Venezuela with about 110,000 residents is home to sophomore management major, Henry Diaz.

He grew up in San Nicolas, Aruba’s second largest city. Diaz later moved toward the central area of the island, Savaneta.

On this Caribbean paradise, pink flamingos wander around greeting visitors and vibrant green palm trees shade the coast. All the beaches are covered in white sands with clear blue waves flowing throughout the ocean.

Tourist and residents alike dine on Spanish and Dutch inspired cuisines such as Keshi Yena and Antillean-Style grilled shark. The weather is usually 80 degrees fahrenheit all year long.

Diaz was one of the many students in attendance at Island Paradise, an event held last Monday night as part of International Student Week.

At the event, students donned leis, ate fruit and skewered chicken with vegetables. Students were also taught some traditional Caribbean dances.

Diaz attended The University of Aruba his freshmen year of college, but knew attending school in the United States was his goal.

“Yes, Aruba is something like paradise,” said Diaz. “But too much paradise can be a bad thing.”

So when Sami Owens, director of the office of international student programs and services, came to his university for recruitment. Diaz saw an opportunity to turn his dream into reality.

“I was able to get in-state tuition,” said Diaz. “That helped me out a lot.”

Aside from receiving an education at ULM, Diaz now gets to fulfill his second life goal: expanding his travels within the states and throughout the world.

“One thing that attracts me towards visiting a place would be adventure,” Diaz said. So far, Diaz has been to Colombia, Curacao, Venezuela, Florida, Utah, Arizona and Nevada.

For him, the key element to an adventurous trip is simply trying new things. “I try to do something that I wouldn’t be able to do back home,” Diaz said.

In Colombia – one of his favorite travel spots -, Diaz visits family members, travels to hidden locations and climbs mountains. Diaz said that Columbia has a lot of beautiful scenery.

Diaz said that although his primary goal is to settle down in Monroe after college, he will continue to travel. “I would love to go Europe and visit some countries there like France and Italy,” said Diaz.

Diaz said that he also plans to travel more within the United States to places like Washington D.C. and New York.