City College Times

International students are Jaguars too

MELISSA MARIA MARTINEZ, TIMES STAFF

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Calling everyone to engage
with the global community

City College draws students
from all across the globe and this
semester SJCC is home to the
largest population of international
students in its history.
International students are
required to take a minimum of 12
units per semester and pay more
than five times per unit than the
average student, according to
admissions and records.
This is the price international
students pay for the opportunity
to study, work hard, take part
in college life, network and
ultimately gain the skills and
experience needed to find a job
in California; they arrive eager to
learn and communicate.
“The thing is we’re kind of shy,”
said Karol Coellar, a 23-yearold
industrial design major, who
arrived four months ago from
El Salvador. “I can be scared to
communicate with people, but I
still try.”
SJCC students also benefit from
cultivating relationships with
international students.
“It is important for us to
create meaningful interpersonal
relationships with our
international students in order to
learn about the world outside of
the Bay Area, acquire new skills,
and also to learn about diverse
perspectives,” communication
professor Shelley Giacalone said.
The entire experience should be
a win-win for everyone, however
not all international students are
finding it easy to establish these
relationships.
“I was thinking that people
would be friendly, but they are
not friendly, especially here in
California,” said Sevar Okulmus,
a 26-year-old international student
from Turkey who has been here
two years.
Kemei Dong, a 19-year-old
accounting major from China, has
been here one year. Last year Dong
said she was aware others around
her were planning for Halloween
and Thanksgiving, but she did
not get a chance to celebrate with
anyone and she said it looks as if
this may happen again.
“For these two festivals I didn’t
see my friends, I didn’t know
where I should go,” Dong said.
Coellar has a suggestion on
how SJCC students can help
make international students feel
more at home.
“Be nicer, a lot of international
students are here without family,
without friends and it’s really
hard.” Coellar said. “Sometimes
people are so into their stuff that
they don’t see the people around.”
There is no one-size-fits all
solution, but there is something
all students can do to effectively
make a positive difference.
“Engage them!” said Sam Ho,
the director of employment and
diversity with the SJECC District
and a former international
student from Vietnam. “We need
to make them feel like home,
they are our guests.”
To engage with international
students on campus Giacalone
recommends students participate
in International Education Week.
An entire week of events designed
to get SJCC students acclimated
with the international students
program. This week long campus
event begins Nov. 14 and ends
Nov. 17.
“I think American students and
international students both want
to know each other, but don’t find
many chances to,” Dong said. “A
college activity is always a chance
to bring students together.”

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The Voice of San Jose City College since 1956
International students are Jaguars too