Local students at Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus will soon be able to broaden their horizons as they meet and mingle with international students arriving this fall from China, Dubai, India, Korea and Morocco. The Fayette campus was recently designated an “international campus” by the Penn State system following a formal process to certify eligibility.
Penn State Fayette Chancellor Emmanuel I. Osagie is proud of the campus’ attractiveness to students from around the world.
“Our students from India and the additional international students this fall are our campus’ first direct admittance of students from abroad. Penn State Fayette is now truly a global campus. The fabric of our campus community is changing and gaining more texture. Not only will these international students become aware of Fayette County and southwestern Pennsylvania as they advance their education, our region will have an opportunity to learn more about other cultures and our global village. There is an opportunity for learning across the region,” he said.
Manu Maria John and Saumya Sebastian arrived at the Fayette campus in the spring to begin the RN to BS in nursing degree program. Both young women had obtained a diploma in nursing in India, but they wanted to earn a bachelor of science degree as well. It took six months for the paperwork and arrangements to be made, but they completed their first semester at the campus and will be joined by other international students as the fall semester begins Aug. 24.
Sebastian said the transition posed some challenges, but not too many.
“This is a wonderful place. Compared to India it is so developed. We may have felt some difficulty at first, but not long.”
“At first we had some language problems, but that resolved very shortly," she said.
Southwestern Pennsylvania offered the young women several new experiences, including their first brush with snow. “We only saw it on television before," Sebastian said.
There were also new experiences where higher education is concerned. “Test taking is not the same. In India long answers are typical. Here multiple choice and short essays seem to be the rule," John said.
Interacting with adult students is something John and Sebastian enjoy. “In India, most people 30 and older already have master’s degrees. Here we like that older adults continue to pursue their education,” John said. They have made nice friends here they say.
Penn State Fayette has joined a small community among Penn State campuses -- it is one of eight campuses in addition to the University Park campus with the international campus designation. Brian Fernandes, director of student and enrollment services, said having international students on campus raises the experience quotient for the campus’ students, faculty and staff.
“Across the board, the interaction with students from around the world will definitely be a bonus for our campus community, and the community at-large," Fernandes said. "The intercultural experiences everyone will be able to share are especially important in today’s world -- there will be learning inside and outside the classroom. In addition, we are looking forward to the opportunities this designation gives us to recruit prospective students from around the world.”
The role of helping to ease the international students into the campus community falls to Susan Crampton-Frenchik, the campus’ French instructor and coordinator of the International and Intercultural Programs Office.
"Galvanized by an increasingly inter-connected world, it is exhilarating to celebrate world cultures here," Crampton-Frenchik said. "We are all so fortunate to be able to share our rich heritage with these international students as they help us to expand our cultural and academic horizons. We are eager to welcome these new students and embrace our global village.”
“The international experience also will go a long way in illustrating to our students how what happens around the world affects us here in southwestern Pennsylvania, and vice versa," Osagie added. "Our local students and the international students will have a unique opportunity to see and embrace the differences and commonalities we all have.”