Mary Burger – Staff Writer
The current first-year class is proudly being proclaimed as the largest and most diverse yet to arrive on Centre’s campus. The college welcomed 378 new students this year, increasing enrollment to 1,375. But a lesser-known number is the amount of international students who arrived on campus. This year, Centre welcomed 27 full-time, four year degree seeking students, as well as a number of students from various exchange programs. These students hail from many countries, including China, Myanmar, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam. The school is also working towards gaining students from the Middle East and South America.
Stephen Swan, a new staff mentor at Centre, is responsible for helping international students get the paperwork needed in order to come to Centre.
“The goal for me is to manage the international students, things in the nature of visas, immigration…and student programs such as the International Student Mentor program,” Swan said.
The application process for an international student is several layers deeper than for someone living in the United States. Besides the normal process of submitting a high school transcript, international prospective students must also submit the TOFEL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). The proficiency level must be passed in order to be accepted to Centre. Students also must apply for a visa, a
process that normally takes three to four months depending on the busyness of the Embassy in the city where they apply. The students arrive on campus before the rest of the first-year class in order to attend International Student Orientation. This allows the students to adjust to time changes and culture before the rest of campus returns.
One current international student is Chisato Takahashi, from Yamaguchi Prefectural University in Japan. She is a junior studying intercultural studies, specifically interested in social development. She will be at Centre for the entire year.
In addition to the fact that Centre has an exchange program with her university, Takahashi also chose to come here for teaching opportunities. “I want to be a Japanese teacher, and [Centre] has an international program which invites Japanese teaching assistants to this university. We have two Japanese classes at Centre and I work with Dr. Miyabi,” Takahashi said.
Takahashi came to Centre with several other Japanese students, all of whom she knew before arrival. Yamaguchi Prefectural University is on the smaller side (like Centre), so she at least knew who the other students were before arriving in the United States. Although she has travelled to places such as Rwanda, this is her first time in the United States. She plans to travel to New York and probably Disney World during her time here. In Japan, she is involved in organizations such as Table 2 Table
and World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF). Her interests in international organizations that work towards helping other people are things she wants to continue to explore during her time at Centre.
The world is becoming more and more interconnected, and study abroad consistently shows students the similarities and differences of that world. With Centre’s incredible study abroad program, students are able to experience different cultures in a unique way.
What is sometimes forgotten is that the international students on campus are having that same experience. Takahashi said that the United States looks very different from Japan, which was one of the first things she noticed.
Takahashi has already learned much about the people of the United in her weeks here. In Japan, she said, she thought she knew a lot about different cultures, but when she arrived here, she started to realize that her perceptions of different cultures were beginning to change.
The international students bring a unique perspective to Centre’s campus culture and provide more opportunities to learn about one another.