NWCCI students find many ways to get involved on their campuses. Edmonds student, Jorge Bermudez from Panama, recently volunteered as an International Assistant at the spring quarter new international student orientation. Below Edmonds Adviser Kim Kraft writes about how this position gave Jorge the chance to be involved on campus and to pass on the knowledge he has gained as an Edmonds student to incoming international students.
Edmonds Community College’s International Student Services office coordinates the International Assistant program in order to give current international students a chance to help new international students adjust to a new environment and assist ISS staff during the week long orientation they call “WOW: Welcome Orientation Week”. ISS advertises the program as “the perfect opportunity for students to gain and improve their communication and leadership skills that will help students thrive in their future endeavors.”
Jorge says he applied to the International Assistant (IA) program because he wanted to develop and improve his leadership skills; meet, help, and assist international students; and learn about other cultures. The selection process was competitive, and involved filling out an application and writing essays. Over 60 people applied for the program and only 14 were selected, including Jorge. Jorge says, “I was selected because of my essay-writing skills, the fact that I speak English, Spanish, Portuguese, and because I am part of the NWCCI group.”
The IA position was a big commitment, Jorge had to attend mandatory trainings and help with the entire week-long orientation. He estimates that he put in 8 hours of training and 36 hours of volunteering during orientation week. During orientation his duties included helping students fill out applications, providing translation when needed, guiding campus tours, and organizing and serving meals.
Jorge says he learned a number of things from his experience as an IA including: enhanced organizational skills, patience, how to be a team player, but most importantly, he says, he “made good and diverse acquaintances from several parts of the world.” In exchange for his service, Jorge was also awarded a certificate of completion from the ISS office.
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs.