UNIVERSITIES ALSO ADD AN INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE AND FLAVOR TO OUR COMMUNITIES, enlarging and enhancing our definition of community to embrace a global perspective.
At Georgia College, our Connections initiative in the Center for International Education links newly arrived international students with community members who offer to provide friendship and support. Richard and Arlene Mueller, who have played host to several Georgia College students throughout the years, most recently hosted Chinese student Jingran Zhao, who just graduated and entered a Ph.D. program at Emory University. Families often maintain contacts for years with their international students, or even visit them in their native nation.
International students also engage the community, particularly the local schools. “International Day is sponsored by more than 100 students who make up the International Club,” says Libby Davis, associate director of the International Education Center. Students around the community observe and participate in the many activities and events, such as games, performances and trying foods from other cultures. International Day is an annual international festival on campus to which the community
International students also connect with the community through work experiences, such as Madina Garifulina, a Eurasian undergraduate exchange student from Kyrgyzstan. In addition to her studies in Mass Communication, she had an internship with the Milledgeville Convention and Visitors Bureau “to give back to the community and to gain practical work experience,” she said. “I also had the opportunity to learn more about American culture by volunteering at a local nursing home through the
Adopt-a-Grandparent program.” Based on a report from the Association of International Educators, the 131 Georgia College international students and their dependents contributed more than $3 million
to the Baldwin County economy during the 2009-2010 academic year.
Chinese Culture brought home
Jingran Zhao, from China, eagerly brought an international flavor to the community, participating in activities at local schools and with organizations like the Girl Scouts. “The girls learned how everyday life in China is similar to, and different from, life in the United States,” said Girl Scout Troop Co-Leader Kay Anderson. Zhao wrote their names in Chinese characters and discussed things that Chinese children enjoy similar to American children – playing with friends, sports and video games. Zhao also taught Taiji martial arts classes in the community.