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International student referees water polo match

a student stands by the side of a pool with a whistle, while other students play water polo near a goal in the pool

Leilei Wang came to the United States in May, stepping off the plane into an unknown place where the language and culture were unfamiliar.

At Miami University, though, he’s found comfort in the familiar — water polo.

Due to an injury, Wang can’t play the sport for himself, but he coaches a professional Chinese team back home.

At Miami, he reached out to the coach and started coming to practices just to watch and be around the sport that he loves.

Since water polo is only a club at Miami, they don’t have a professional coach, and instead the older students coach the younger ones. At one game, the upperclassman coach wanted to play, so Wang volunteered to step in and referee.

Wang is a visiting international scholar. He’s in graduate school in China and is only in America for three months. Wang said one of his goals in coming to America was to improve his English in hopes of one day being an international referee.

“The team members are really kind,” Wang said through a translator. “They are willing to talk to me, and I’ve learned a lot of English.”

Wang has also been able to help the team during his time here. America used to have its own water polo rules, but the NCAA recently adopted the international guidelines. Wang has been able to help Miami’s team adjust to these new rules.

Wang hopes to continue his involvement with the team until he goes back to China in November. The team practices three times a week, and Wang said he’ll be there at every practice.