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International students strengthen College community

| Thursday, August 23, 2018

Saint Mary’s College frequently promotes its study abroad opportunities, providing its students opportunities to travel around the world. But the College’s international reach extends beyond sending its students to every corner of the globe; it is also working towards bringing a global community to campus by providing various opportunities for international students.

This year, Saint Mary’s is hosting 14 degree-seeking students, two first year students, two exchange students and two Fulbright Scholars. These students are from around the world, hailing from China, Spain, Vietnam, Germany, El Salvador, South Korea, Egypt and South Africa.

“Saint Mary’s sends about 200 students to study abroad in 18 countries and serve as global peace ambassadors around the world,” Alice Yang, the assistant director for Global Education, said in an email. “In the same way, our international students can serve as global peace ambassadors on campus to build mutual understanding and international friendships through international education and cultural exchange activities – women going global for building peace.”

Yang works directly with international students by providing immigration services, advising the Chinese Culture Club and hiring Chinese students to assist with programs and international education events. She said that she is always impressed by students’ passion, knowledge and skills of identifying resources.

“International students come to the U.S. to pursue their academic dream and life dream,” she said. “They come to learn and to be inspired. In the meantime, they bring their languages and cultures along with them. We can always learn from their experiences and expertise.”

Assistant director for International Student and Scholar Services Adriana Petty said in an email that working with international students and scholars has helped her broaden her perspectives and learn more about the world.

“It is so rewarding to see the transformation and growth that each international student and scholar have from the first day they arrive on campus to the day they leave,” she said. “Each of them have had a tremendous impact in my life and with our campus community.”

Junior Yijie Ren, a native of China, said in an email she first heard about Saint Mary’s while attending high school in Indiana. She visited the campus twice before deciding it was where she wanted to pursue a degree. Ren said participating in the Belles Connect Program before her first year made her more comfortable in the new environment.

“The Belles Connect Program and first welcome week brought me so much joy and reduced my stresses and pressures,” she said. “I made many good friends and leaned many studying skills from upperclassmen. Saint Mary’s College always brings me the feeling of coming back home.”

Petty said she finds the friendships students make to be one of the most valuable aspects of having international students at the College.

“In our mission, it states that our campus is one ‘where students develop their talents and prepare to make a difference in the world,’” Petty said. “Hosting international students and scholars introduces U.S. students to individuals who are from other parts of the world that they may not have ever met or learned from if they were not attending classes alongside with them. It is a great gift to have fellow classmates who bring global perspectives to class discussions. The international students and scholars on our campus connect us to the world in a very unique, personal and profound way.”

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About Maria Leontaras

Maria Leontaras is a senior at Saint Mary's pursuing a student-designed major in Interactive Journalism with minors in mathematics and Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. Maria used to serve as the Editor-in-Chief of The Observer when she wasn't busy tweeting about movies and One Direction.

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