Students find a home away from home

Students find a home away from home

Northeast student Aji Nijie, left, and Morris prepare dinner together at Morris’ house one Friday evening. The professor welcomes students into her home each weekend to share a home cooked meal and a small devotion.

Northeast student Aji Nijie, left, and Morris prepare dinner together at Morris’ house one Friday evening. The professor welcomes students into her home each weekend to share a home cooked meal and a small devotion.

By Teresa Flores

The holiday season rings with ideas of giving back and lending a helping hand to others. However, there is one professor on the Northeast campus who spreads love and kindness all year round.

To say that Northeast Professor Marguerite Morris reaches out and touches the lives of her students is an understatement. Over the past few months, the teacher has opened up the doors of her home and gifted her students, who come from around the world, the comfort of calling her place a home away from home.

Every Friday night, Morris welcomes a group of her students and their friends to her home to enjoy dinner and each other’s company. “My interest was simply to have a place for them to come and have a home cooked meal and just to have fun,” she said. “A part of that though is not just the home cooked meal, but it is also, I believe, that God has given me that ministry and he wants me to share my faith with them.”

Morris is no stranger to showing acts of kindness to Northeast students. Over the years, she has opened up her home and given students a place to get together with others and enjoy a home cooked meal. In 1994, Morris said she felt like she adopted three of the baseball players who originated from New York, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. The professor has even taken students to her family’s Thanksgiving dinner.

The majority of young people who Morris welcomes into her home are international students she’s had in one of her classes or connected with through other students. “I’ve always had a heart for people that are from someplace else,” she said. “I have always had a heart for students that cannot go home.”

The group of girls that Morris typically hosts each Friday night originate from around the world and by coming together at their professor’s home, they get to connect with each other a little better.

“I like that we are getting to know people from different places,” Aji Nijie said. “Basically, most of us are from different countries and places, and in school we are busy sometimes and have things going on. We love to talk to each other and get to know what’s going on in Cameroon, Zimbabwe, the U.K. or I’ll tell them what is going on in Gambia.”

For the professor, she finds that the kitchen table talk is also a way for her to discover new things about her students and their interesting backgrounds. “Every time we come together, we learn something new from somebody’s culture. Sometimes I don’t even interact,” Morris said. “I just love to listen and be a part of their lives for a short time on Friday nights. It’s a highlight of my week to have them over to my house.”

Being so far away from their homes, the girls said they enjoy spending their weekend evenings with their professor and love coming back for more than just the meal. “It kind of fulfills the need of having someone to kind of look after you and someone you know is there,” Chloe Copsey said. “It’s nice to have that comfort.”

After dinner, Morris shares a small devotion with the group of girls that she pulls from her daily life experiences.  Her devotions give a certain comfort to the ladies as well. “The first time we came here, it was really cool,” Avera Sendze-Kishani added. “When she read the Bible verse for us, it kind of was something that I needed to hear at the time. It’s kind of what kept me coming just to hear the verses at the end.”

The girls said their parents also find comfort in knowing that someone is watching over them. “It’s like having a home away from home. It feels good; it really does,” Mako Tembo, a Zimbabwe native, said. “My mom feels happier now because she knows that someone is taking care of me and she can relax. It just makes her really happy.”

Earlier this semester, Morris invited a few of the men’s soccer players from Ireland to cook Irish beef stew for the college’s Taste of NTCC competition. Even for that one day, the players said Morris’ kindness made them feel special. “Because we are so far away from home, it’s nice to have somebody open their home and invite us in,” Ryan Molloy said. “It was good for us to get a taste of our own food from back home, too. We haven’t felt at home since we’ve been here.”

This year, Morris will be hosting a pre-Thanksgiving dinner for the group to gather once more before the holiday break. Together, they will enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal and as usual, each other’s company.

Morris has been a part of the Northeast community for the last 28 years. Serving as the director of Development Education, she described her teaching job as “a gratifying experience.” “I can’t think of anything else more rewarding than teaching,” she said. “I think it’s because of this statement: To teach is to touch a life forever. I just cannot think of anything more rewarding than touching lives.”

Showing kindness to others is more than just being a loving human being to Morris, but it also relates directly to her faith and relationship with God.

“For me personally, I feel like God has given me this ministry and I am being obedient,” Morris said. “I would just like to think that I have touched their lives. I know that they have touched mine. Part of the ministry of any Christian is sharing your faith with others, go out into the world. Well, the world has come to me.”

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