Yelena v. fadina

Yelena V. Fadina 810 S. Main St. 16B Salisbury, NC 28144 803-984-9104 December 11, 2011 John C. Cardwell Bluefield State College Conley Hall 312 219 Rock Street Bluefield WV 24701 Dear Mr. Cardwell: As a former international student of Bluefield State College, I want to thank the administration for great support and faculty stuff for outstanding academic experience during past two years. I know that you have biggest interest in well-being of foreign students. Your first priority always was to provide the best experience and support in any situation to every student on campus. The main purpose of this proposal is to make international students feel more comfortable and confident while at Bluefield State College. There are few difficulties that international students go through by arriving to college. First is a language barrier, which affects foreign students’ academic and social success. Second is cultural adaptation, which slower students’ transition into the new culture and understanding of local traditions. Third is the distance from a family which makes it hard for a student to go through some difficulties, when family can’t give any suggestion in a different situation due to cultural differences. Development of international student support center would help students to adapt to a new education system and culture faster. Organization of mix cultural events on campus would help make friends among the local population and help in cultural transition. Mentoring would give support to situations when family couldn’t help and improve academic results. I believe that if the administration will take all this concerns under consideration and implement some of the suggestions; it will drive up the retention of international students as well as new recruitment and overall satisfaction of foreign students. Sincerely, Yelena Fadina Research Paper for MBA 601 Organizational Communications International Students experience at Bluefield State College Final Proposal Yelena Fadina Pfeiffer University Table of Contents Executive Summary………………………………………………….. 4 Introduction………………………………………………………….. 4 Arguments……………………………………………………………. 5 a. Language barrier…………………………………………………… 5 b. Cultural Difference…………………………………………………. 7 c. Distance Family………………….…………………………………8 d. Social Interaction……………….…………………………………. 9 Recommendations…………………………………………………….. 9 a. Mentoring…………………..…………………………………….. 9 b. Counseling Services………………………………………………. 10 c. Pre-entry English courses………….………………………………11 d. Intercultural Events………………………………………………. 12 Conclusion…………………………………………………………….. 12 References…………………………………………………………….. 13 Executive Summary This proposal paper concentrates on difficulties that international students going through while studying in foreign countries. Bluefield State College is one school, but a good example of international student’s transaction in a new environment. Main purpose of this research paper is to single out the major challenge for colleges in the United States. This proposal will identify different symptoms that dictate experience of international students at the university. Research will describe arguments like language barrier, cultural differences, distance from the family and social interaction in great details. Another helpful aspect of this paper is to suggest solutions to all the arguments. Developing international student’s center will improve foreign students’ satisfaction with a college experience. This proposal will explain how mentoring, counseling and cultural exchange events will improve students experience and academic success. Introduction Every school wants to be recognized not only locally but also worldwide. Schools try to attract student from all over the world by giving scholarships to foreign students, or contracting with international schools on exchange programs. It is a challenge to bring international students to college in the United States, but the most important task is to make foreign students feel like they didn’t leave home, or they aren’t that far from it. Every institution would like to see each international student successfully get a degree and leave school with the best experience. I want to address problems and needs of international students, when they choose to come to colleges in the United States. The best example would be Bluefield State College, which I attended as an international student. Bluefield State College is a small school in Bluefield, West Virginia. Population of the college is mostly local residents. There is no campus housing, or transportation provided by the school, which makes it inconvenient for students. Unsafe surrounding is another downsize, there were a few incidents including shooting and fighting. College is known for their good engineering and nursing programs, in addition to a few others. The biggest downsize is that Bluefield State College doesn’t have International Center. When it comes to international students, there is a lot that needs to be taken under consideration like the language barrier, cultural differences, social life, and distance from the family. Development of an international support center will improve international students’ assimilation, facilitate intercultural engagement and promote academic success. Arguments a. Language barrier The level of English proficiency is very low, when international students first arrive to school in the United States. It becomes the biggest obstacle in communication. It also affects students’ confidence. Some students scared to say something incorrect, or being misunderstood. The main purpose of international students of studying in the United States is to exchange cultural experience, make new friends and receive worldwide accepted degree. One of the articles shows due to limited English many students shut down, they choose to stay in the room and communicate with peers who are from the same geographic background (McLachlan & Justice, 2009). Foreign students decide to socialize among each other because they have a lot of things in common. Majority of international students is from Saudi Arabia at Bluefield State College. It makes it easier for them to communicate among each other, the cultural difference not that visible, which makes them feel like they have never left home. There is a major downsize in the situation like that, English proficiency of these students doesn’t improve, and they don’t get complete experience in cultural exchange. Sovic (2009) article makes it clear from international students’ interviews that home students don’t want to interact with foreigners because of their language proficiency. They feel like it takes too long for international students to express their ideas, and they ask few times to repeat, because of the language, slang, and humor (Sovic, 2009). Language proficiency has a huge effect on academic success. First international students have to adjust to the education system, difference in the grading scale, and professors’ way of teaching classes. Another problem arises, when students have to follow a professor and take notes in a different language. Some professors require participation in class. A lot of international students don’t feel comfortable to speak up during a class session, because of the accent. They feel that they will be misunderstood. If students don’t participate in discussions, it counts against their grade. The main obstacle is to writing, it is already hard to write a research paper that would meet higher education standards, but it is twice harder to write it in a different language. Research article proves that local students had better academic results during first and second years in university than international students. However, article shows that the problem is not just language barrier, but also difference in culture. Students speaking a different language family, differently adjusting to understanding and learning English (Mann, Canny, Lindley & Rajan, 2010). That means that international students have to spend twice more time in order to get the same results as home students. This gives even less time for socializing. b. Cultural difference Cultural difference is another obstacle that foreign students have to adjust. The article explains crucial point of every foreign student’s unique background (Wedding, McCartney & Currey, 2009). Depending on the country of origin, some students take longer than other to adapt to the American culture. For example, Asian students find it very difficult to get used to American food, so they don’t go to the school cafeteria, where there is just local food. Asian students are trying to find stores or places where they could get and cook homemade food. Another aspect of the cultural differences is religion. For example, Arabian students have different holidays, which dictate what time they can have classes, receive food, or pray. They have to readjust, because universities’ schedule in the United States doesn’t include any of it. Another critical cultural group is students from India and surrounding India countries. According to their religion, students can’t eat beef, because a cow is saint animal. Most of products in the United States are made from beef; some of the Indian students not realizing that in the first couple weeks eat beef produced products. Many American holidays are different from other countries. Sports play a great part in American culture. Sports are very common topic among American students. There is many more like fashion and music differences. Silvia Sovic (2009) suggests in her article that acculturation is very important in foreign students’ social lives. c. Distance from family Many of the students are just graduated from high school, used to their family being around. Moving away from home to college makes it very complicated. Students have to learn how to organize their day, control time, cooking, doing laundry. One of the studies explains common problems that foreign and home students go through during the first couple semesters at school. Both groups have to adjust to new academic system, independence, distance from family. Also, it shows other challenges that only international students’ experience. They have to deal with all the legal requirements, acculturation, and language barrier (Wedding, McCartney & Currey, 2009). Many of international students are facing some problems, where their parents can’t help them. Families are not familiar with the system, economic situation. Another research suggests that family and high school friends are the main support during the first couple weeks at college (Sherry, Thomas & Wing Hong, 2010). That proves that international students don’t have that support during first weeks at college. d. Social interaction Another very important challenge is social interaction. Many international students find it is very hard to start talking to home students. There is a different reason that leads to isolation of international students from American peers. Article explains that language barrier, cultural difference as well as the difference in age makes it hard to communicate with home students (Wei, Ku, Russell, Liao & Mallinckrodt, 2008). Similar age problem mentioned in Sovic (2009) article: many international students are older and have one or two undergraduate degrees, so it is hard to find common interests with local students and keep the dialogue going. Recommendations Every school should have an international center, where foreign students could seek for a help, support, or suggestion. There is an international center where there is a big international students’ population at schools. These international centers provide students with advice in different situations answer all legal questions, help to interact with other international students. I believe that every school who has international students, has to have international center in order to satisfy basic needs of the foreign students. a. Mentoring I believe that student-mentors would help international students in academic level also in social life. If an international student would have an American mentor, it will help them to improve their English proficiency. Foreign students will feel more confident to interact with an American mentor, then with regular student at first. Mentor wouldn’t mind to repeat phrases multiple times, or explain some situations, that international students wouldn’t understand. Mentors could introduce international students to their friends. One of the researches shows that students’ responds were very positive towards endorsing mentoring system in universities. They said that professors/mentors shared information on working as a teacher in American education system. Majority said that it helped them to make new friends through the meetings, which helped them to improve their English skills and easier adapt to the new environment. Students said that professors paid attention to difficulties that they had, which showed to students that faculty cares about them. All that made foreign students feels more confident and comfortable (Ku, Lahman, Yeh & Cheng, 2008; Sato & Hodge, 2009). b. Counseling services Endorsing counseling services could help not only assist international students, but also help universities better understand international students and what they are going through while at school. Counseling services will analyze each international student’s unique background and needs. Depending on a student’s cultural background counselors could come up with different programs in order to ease students’ transition into a new environment. I found research article that gives great examples of situations that international students experience in any institution. Concentrating on place of origin, culture, gender, age, counseling would be a great solution at meeting international students’ needs, helping them overcome any obstacles, and facilitating intercultural engagement (Tidwell & Hanassab, 2007). If consular group at every institution would hold that type of research, it will prepare university for new coming international students. Counselors’ task is not only to understand foreign students’ difficulties, but also understand their own culture and understand the difference between them. By completion of that task, it would be much easier to help foreign students introduce American culture and help them with transaction. Olivas and Li (2006) research suggests organizing events where local students could communicate with international students. Mixing or cultural exchange would help both group of students in developing new connections and developing new relationships. Paper suggests each university to do research on counseling programs (Olivas & Li, 2006). c. Pre-entry English courses Pre-entry English courses will better prepare international students for starting college. It will improve their English proficiency. These classes could give them better idea of the education system with no pressure of grading. It will allow them to come to the university in advance and get familiarize with surrounding. Helen Benzie (2010) suggests that pre-entry English courses will help students not only improve English level; it will give them opportunity to start adjusting to a new culture and socialize with local students before school semester starts. d. Intercultural events I believe that if a school or international center would organize more events, where international students would interact with home students, it will help to create friendship among different groups. Intercultural classes, where home students could learn about foreign cultures and international students would learn about local culture. One of the articles provides information on the culture mixing events. Mixing activities, where students with different background interact with each other, helps all cultural groups better understand each other (Mackay, Harding, Jurlina, Scobie & Khan, 2011). Conclusion All information above indicates that all international students no matter what country they choose to get Higher Education from experience the same challenges. Every school has to consider these challenges and help foreign students overcome these difficulties, or try to make it less noticeable. Mentoring, counseling, host family programs are the most popular and effective ways to help students when they are going through acculturation. Organizing social events where international and local students could mix and interact outside of an academic environment. If every school would apply knowledge about foreign students’ unique needs, it would help not only students but also schools to develop future international connections. References Benzie, H. (2010). Graduating as a ‘native speaker’: international students and English language proficiency in higher education. Higher Education Research & Development, 29(4), 447-459. Ku, H., Lahman, M. E., Yeh, H., & Cheng, Y. (2008). Into the academy: Preparing and mentoring international doctoral students. Educational Technology Research And Development, 56(3), 365-377. Mackay, B., Harding, T., Jurlina, L., Scobie, N., & Khan, R. (2011). Utilizing the Hand Model to promote a culturally safe environment for international nursing students. Nursing Praxis In New Zealand, 27(1), 13-24. Mann, C., Canny, B., Lindley, & J., Rajan, R. (2010). The influence of language family on academic performance in Year 1 and 2 MBBS students. Medical Education, 44(8), 786-794. McLachlan, D., & Justice, J. (2009). A grounded theory of international student well-being. Journal Of Theory Construction & Testing, 13(1), 27-32. Olivas, M., & Li, C. (2006). Understanding Stressors of International Students in Higher Education: What College Counselors and Personnel Need to Know. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 33(3), 217-222. Sato, T., & Hodge, S. R. (2009). Asian international doctoral students’ experiences at two American universities: Assimilation, accommodation, and resistance. Journal Of Diversity In Higher Education, 2(3), 136-148. Sherry, M., Thomas, P., & Wing Hong, C. (2010). International students: a vulnerable student population. Higher Education, 60(1), 33-46. Sovic, S. (2009). Hi-bye friends and the herd instinct: international and home students in the creative arts. Higher Education, 58(6), 747-761. Tidwell, & R., Hanassab, S. (2007). New challenges for professional counselors: The higher education international student population. Counseling Psychology Quarterly, 20(4), 313-324. Yakushko, O., Davidson, M., & Sanford-Martens, T. C. (2008). Seeking Help in a Foreign Land: International Students’ Use Patterns for a U. S. University Counseling Center. Journal Of College Counseling, 11(1), 6-18. Wedding, D., McCartney, J. L., & Currey, D. E. (2009). Lessons relevant to psychologists who serve as mentors for international students. Professional Psychology: Research And Practice, 40(2), 189-193. Wei, M., Ku, T., Russell, D. W., Liao, K., & Mallinckrodt, B. (2008). Moderating Effects of Three Coping Strategies and Self-Esteem on Perceived Discrimination and Depressive Symptoms: A Minority Stress Model for Asian International Students. Journal Of Counseling Psychology, 55(4), 451-462.