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College of Liberal Arts
   
 
A Home Away From Home?
A look at COLA international students
by Kavya Yadav
 

Leaving home is a huge decision–especially if “home” is a couple of continents and an ocean away. Nonetheless, hundreds and thousands of students every year pack up their bags, leave family and friends behind, and continue their education in a completely new country and environment.

  Sneha Vargese, an international student from Bombay, India, transferred into the Professional and Technical (PTC) program in fall 2002.

According to information provided by Lilli Jensen of the Center for International Student Transition and Support, 1,300 out of 14,000 students at RIT are international. Of the 600 students within COLA, international students make up five percent of the total population. For a college growing in size every day, this figure is significant in every sense of the word.

So why do international students decide to come to RIT to major in the liberal arts? It seems that most international students in COLA feel that an institution’s reputation and image plays a large role in attracting new students. Sneha Vargese, an international student from Bombay, India, who recently joined the Professional and Technical Communication (PTC) program in fall 2002, agreed with this notion. “I had applied to RIT, Michigan State University, and Kansas State University, but my counselor advised me to choose this school [RIT] because it’s very popular in Bombay,” she said. Vargese transferred from a bachelor’s degree program in Mass Media at the National College in India, in hopes of broadening her playing field and career opportunities.

Verda Duygun, a native of Istanbul, Turkey, joined the Communication and Media Technologies (CMT) graduate program this fall. “After deciding to do my masters in the [United] States, my first choice appeared to be RIT,” she said. “Fortunately, I found out a lot of worthy information for its communication department, and so here I am!”

Another hook for most international students is COLA’s multidisciplinary education, career exploration, and undeclared programs. These give students the flexibility to take a variety of courses that will help them make a decision about what field they might want to pursue in the future.

In addition to this, COLA has actively adapted to its growing international student population by partnering with other offices on campus to meet the needs and requirements of such students. Once such office is the English Language Center (ELC), located on the first floor of the George Eastman Building.

Rhona Genzel, Director of the ELC, helps international students who may have trouble communicating their thoughts into spoken and written English. “Usually, the student needs help in listening, writing, and speaking skills, while reading is not a problem at all,” said Genzel. The ELC has a special program specifically aimed to make things a little easier for students with this difficulty. For example, an international student may have his or her presentation videotaped to make it easier to understand how he or she can modify or improve upon it. “Very often, the organization of sentences and grammar differs in different countries, so we help try to solve these minor disparities too,” said Genzel.

COLA also is home to many professors who have traveled internationally, as well as those who are natives from different countries all over the globe. Their worldview on the issues presented within their courses provides a unique perspective that is hard to find elsewhere. The economics program is home to Amitrajeet Batabyal, a professor from India, Constantino Dumangane, a professor from Mozambique, Africa, Hoyoung Lee, a professor from Korea, and Ricardo Nieva, a professor from Peru. Murli Sinha, originally from India, is a sociology professor. The history department includes Nabil Kaylani from Lebanon, Richard Chu from China, and Pellegrino Nazzaro from Italy.

From the students to the professors, COLA thrives with culture in every sense of the word.


   
 

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