JAMESTOWN – Santru Mohan has watched with joy the leaves change color and fall from their branches for the past few weeks. He smiles as he talks about the chilly temperatures that have hit campus.
“I can’t wait to see winter and snow because I’ve never seen snow in my life,” said Mohan, a student at SUNY Jamestown Community College in South India, where temperatures are hot all year round.
Mohan is far from the only overseas JCC student with wonderful experiences every day. The Hospitality and Tourism major is among a record 72 international students from 26 countries and six continents attending JCC this fall. The previous record was 53 in 2019.
When the college hosted its annual international education fair Go Global on Wednesday, attendees received fake passports to stamp at tables representing many countries from which JCC international students call home.
“We currently have a very busy student pool,” said Hannah Pruch, Global Learning Coordinator at JCC. “We complete and submit applications almost every day. “
Pruch expects up to 12 students – from Fiji, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkmenistan – to join the college for the spring semester. It is likely that there will be over 100 JCC international students by next fall.
There are many reasons why the pipeline to JCC from the rest of the world has widened over the past twelve years, including the college’s dedication to providing students around the world with a welcoming home.
“JCC was one of the schools that contacted me to say hello, we love your portfolio, maybe come and study at our school,” said Belinda Paine, one of JCC’s 15 South African students. “I loved the atmosphere. It was always very welcoming from the first moment I met Hannah. She was so sweet. I remember it was midnight our hour and we had a meeting with her. It was so exciting, and they made so much time for us. With JCC, you could see that the ethics of the school were so different from other places. It was definitely where I wanted to be.
JCC President Daniel DeMarte said that “the increase in international enrollments is in line with the college’s strategic plan as well as our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative”.
“International students add value to both the college and the community,” he added. “They offer local students the opportunity to develop an understanding of different cultures, while recognizing the common traits that all people share. “
Although international students have attended JCC for decades, the college’s earliest efforts to attract learners from around the world date back to 2008, when the dorms on the Jamestown campus opened, said Nelson Garifi, recently retired executive director. of the JCC for Academic Innovation who has remained as a global learning consultant. .
As JCC prepared to open its housing on campus 13 years ago, an earthquake devastated Sichuan, China.
“SUNY quickly organized a global initiative to bring 150 Sichuan students to New York City to provide them with continuity in their college education, as most of the colleges and universities in the area were severely damaged by the earthquake,” said Garifi recalled. “The timing worked out well for JCC as we were able to accommodate five of these dislocated students in Jamestown for a full academic year, and they have kept in touch with us ever since.
International students connect with JCC in several ways. Some find the school’s website after searching online. Others work with agencies in their countries that help them with the process of collecting information and applying to colleges.
Nineteen students are at JCC as part of US State Department programs. Twelve are part of the Community College Initiative (CCI) program, which is new to the college this year. Five students are at the JCC for the Year of Exchange in America for Russians program, while two Germans have come for the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange.
Additionally, many South African and Australian students come to the JCC with the help of International Athlete Management 360, or IAM 360 for short.
The CCI program will allow 12 to 16 international students to come to college each year, said Lena Young, who coordinates the program for JCC.
Students in the program must complete an extensive application process to be selected by their country’s embassy, including the production of eight essays, Mohan said. They are also required to complete 75 internship hours and 100 volunteer hours in the United States.
They spend a school year at their community college before returning home.
“While they’re here, they write what’s called an action plan,” Young said. “It’s a plan for what you’re going to do to improve your home country and your community when you get back from what you learned in America. “
While Pruch plans to travel abroad to meet potential students in person when the pandemic loosens its grip on the world, most of his first encounters are now via video conference.
“It’s a change from the pandemic,” she said. “Everyone is a little tired of the Zoom meetings, but for the internationals it has been great. It’s something that wasn’t really used before the pandemic. We organize webinars and one-on-one meetings. It’s better than an email or a phone call. It’s time to sit down together and really get to know them, answer their questions and address their concerns.
Pruch said that JCC’s thoughtful commitment to international students, along with the college’s affordable tuition and scholarship opportunities make it a top choice for many.
“A lot of the responses we get from potential students are that they really appreciate that we can take the time to meet them one-on-one and that they’ve heard several voices in college, even though they’re not even yet registered, ”she added. “It seems like a very nurturing and caring environment, which it is. “