International student and pianist Miguel Sousa dedicates recital to CMU

Most international students go through a difficult transition period after moving to Mount Pleasant from their homes, but for Miguel Sousa that transition was made easier by faculty and new friends.

The Portuguese graduate student and pianist is dedicating a piano recital to Central Michigan University, its faculty and his new friends at 5 p.m. on Saturday in Chamichian Hall in the Music Building.

“I'm so appreciative of being here at CMU with all of the instructors and friends,” Sousa said. “The first day moving here was okay, but the weeks after it got hard and I really felt the difference in just everyday interactions. The biggest difference is expression.”

For international students, understanding a new culture can be difficult. 

Steven Egler, organ professor in the Music Department, said the most significant barrier is understanding the language.

“Students understanding the subtleties of the language, that’s pretty universal,” Egler said. “However, Miguel had a very good command of the English language. He has dealt with a lot of getting comfortable with the language and he, along with other foreign exchange students, are better for it because many of us wouldn't do that.”

The adjustment for foreign exchange students is apparent with time. Adrienne Wiley, piano professor in the music department, said Sousa’s social change has been visible.

“He can speak (English) better and is starting to understand some of our slang,” Wiley said. “Miguel is also understanding the difference in music here when compared to Portugal. There are much more performing opportunities in great facilities. His comfort zone for getting adjusted has really blossomed in a good way.”

Portugal’s economic atmosphere has limited many musicians ability to expand their careers, Sousa said. That was the reason he traveled to CMU.

“I've always had a dream of becoming a musician," Sousa said. "But the economic situation in Portugal was not allowing me to expand my career."

Sousa said he was working a job that didn't fulfill him. 

"I wanted to change. I had co-worker come in and talk to me about studying abroad," he said. "After that I said ‘Okay I am going to America’.”

While here, Sousa has taken advantage of performing in the community of Mount Pleasant. Egler said even though there has been criticism about Sousa taking on so many performances, it's a skill other students should pick up.

“Quite frankly, I look at it at that as being a good entrepreneur of your skills,” Egler said. “Many of us who have been performing for so many years know that is what you have to do. Our students should be doing it themselves as well. Everyone’s always doing course work but what are they doing outside of the classroom?”

While performing around the community, Sousa keeps his musical career going by keeping a positive attitude. Wiley said it’s more than just being a hard worker that makes him stand out.

“He is also very passionate about playing the piano," Wiley said. "It’s his career. He loves to accompany other students, four string students and vocalists. I think he is setting his sights on becoming a collaborative pianist, playing for singers and stuff like that. ”

Sousa plans to continue working in the United States after he finishes his studies. He said his passion for music, along with continuously making connections with people, is due to a dream he will never let go of.

“What makes me fight everyday for the dream is, since starting my practice in music, people have always told me I couldn't do it," Sousa said. "I never had the support of doing this and that is what makes me work hard towards it. I want to use the music I make to change the world, I know it sounds cheesy, but music is for everyone. I want to use to reach all of them and show them it relates to all different types of people.”


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