We are busy welcoming the new students in the Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) program as they arrive in Washington state on August 12th. We are happy to introduce Ivy Raines, who is an American student at Edmonds Community College. She will be helping to greet the NWCCI students at Edmonds. After completing her associates degree, Ivy plans to transfer a four-year university to pursue a degree in sociology and international studies. Here she explains why she chose to pursue an internship with the NWCCI as well as her past involvement with students in the program.
Hello! Bonjour! Hola! My name Ivy Raines and I’m the new NWCCI intern, but growing up I also became accustomed to the title “host sister”. Having an eighteen-year hosting experience, my mother has opened our home to international students since the time I arrived on the planet. In both short- and long-term home stays, China, Indonesia, Japan and Taiwan were only a few of the countries my fellow “brothers” and “sisters” came from during my childhood.
Photo albums filled of memories with these students and accumulated cultural items from various parts of the world were only the beginning of the international journey that has brought me to the NWCCI program.
Coming to Edmonds Community College last fall was truly a life changing experience and luckily one I was able to experience early.
Running Start, a program in Washington state which allows high-school juniors and seniors to complete their high school requirements and start their two-year college degree at a community college, was my one way ticket to indeed, a running start.
Through this opportunity I will graduate June 2015 with both my high school diploma from Edmonds Woodway High School as well as my two year associates of arts degree from here, Edmonds Community College.
The ability to take charge of my academics was an expected bonus to my acclimation to college life but what I did not foresee were the individuals who would play a role in my growth not only as a student, but as an emerging adult and an active participant in society.
My first one-on-one interaction with international students on campus was through International Student Service’s (ISS) Conversation Partner Program, which pairs native English speakers with international students to work on their communication skills and also learn about each others’ cultures.
Paired with Miniji, a Korean student, I spent an average of 2-3 hours per week discussing English questions, American slang, current events, as well as happenings in our own lives. Minji shared with me that during the previous seven months studying ESL at Edmonds, I was the first American student she had talked to.
Over the short period of eight weeks, I saw Minji not only improve her English skills but also exude a new-found confidence – and there was no better feeling in the world than knowing that I was a part of her success.
It was through my involvement with the Conversation Partner Program that I began to understand the importance of immersion into American culture for international students. The experience not only inspired me to teach English abroad in the future but reaffirmed my passion for working with people from around the world.
At the same time I was building my friendship with Minji, two other students, Amreen Mushtaq and Raju Pulivandlas from India, came into my life and connected me with NWCCI. Starting out as strangers in our spring quarter class, we later walked out lifelong friends.
From day one I was drawn by Amreen’s elegance and fashion sense and Raj’s vibrant personality. He never missed a beat in making himself heard in a classroom discussion. They are both remarkably intelligent and well spoken.
I became further acquainted with Amreen through an article I was working on for the college newspaper, The Triton Review. Titled “Debunking Myths about the Hijab”, this initial conversation with Amreen not only opened my eyes to a culture foreign to me, but I also learned about a program that provides such phenomenal opportunities to outstanding students across the globe. This was NWCCI.
Through my friendship with Raj and Amreen, I was able to not only relish in the days spent before their departure home, but additionally meet many of the other students who over the 10 months of the program became brothers and sisters to Amreen and Raj.
Having Raju cook for me on a spring afternoon after our project together as well as sharing in Amreen’s “pre-birthday” and sharing chai in her apartment are just a few of the moments I will forever treasure.
These two not only shared with me their culture and ambitions but reinforced the idea that it is not only important for international students to immerse themselves in American life but for Americans to become further aware of the world around them.
I am forever grateful to have met these individuals who continue to have a prominent impact in my life but owe them for this opportunity to embark on the journey with 16 new students about to have their own life-changing experience with us here at Edmonds Community College.
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.