As students in the Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) program are enjoying their last weeks in the United States, Ivy Raines is also finishing her time at Edmonds Community College. Ivy, an American student, assisted incoming students adjust to U.S. culture during orientation. Ivy plans to begin her next chapter at St. Lawrence University in the fall to study global studies. Just as she developed her own cultural competency this last year as our intern, Ivy has seen our NWCCI students flourish in the United States. Here she writes about what arrival day was like for her and how her interactions with NWCCI students have shaped her future plans.
I vividly remember the day that passport pictures, visas and applications became real life individuals. I woke up promptly at 7:00 am, anxiously checking my email for each student’s arrival time to Edmonds. I stationed myself in our residence hall, Rainier Place, with welcome bags and a substantial amount of snacks to carry me through the day. Jetlagged students stumbled out of van after van. Jet-legged and excited faces from various parts of the globe were brought together to further their horizons That day, August 12th 2014, was just the beginning of that journey.
I spent six hours waiting in the lobby as students ventured to what would be their home for the next 10 months. Hour after hour passed and I remained eager to offer my assistance. I was alone until Noor Abir, a student from Bangladesh, made his way down the hallway to the chair next to me. There was no emergency, no urge to go anywhere, Noor simply wished to talk. As we took a walk around campus, Noor shared about his life back home, his sisters who still resided back in Bangladesh and how badly he was already missing them. By the end of that walk I had become Noor’s American sister. I then realized there were no specific ways to support these students, sometimes all someone needs is someone to advocate for them, relate to, and rely on, regardless in what form.
As I had embraced Noor as family, I did so with the rest of the NWCCI students. I found joy in discovering each of their unique qualities. Noor’s genuine kindness, Maira’s leadership and mother like nurturing, Oni’s liveliness and love of life, Pasa’s sass and strength, Bashir’s laugh and humor, Jawahir’s quiet demeanor and craving for adventure, Raj’s down-to-earth personality, Issa’s passion and love for conversation. Not to mention Azhar’s adaptability and easy “going-ness”, Haris’s eagerness and excitement, Fatima’s willingness to try new things, Naila’s ever so sweet hospitality, Lerato’s independence, Siyanda’s confidence and style, Vignesh’s perspective and smile, and last but certainly not least, Murat’s outgoing and open personality.
Whether it was making vision boards or teaching these students how to navigate the local bus system and shop frugally, I found myself becoming personally invested in each of them. Throughout the year I have found bittersweet pride in watching their independence prosper – and knowing that I had helped give them the necessary foundation for success which they have built upon gives me the greatest satisfaction and pride.
These individuals are not just a visiting group; they are a group of impactful, distinct and inspiring young leaders. Working with them, I was influenced by their presence and experiences. They have played a major role in my choosing global studies as my major, as well as my intent to seek a future career in working with diverse students from varying parts of the world. St. Lawrence University (SLU) was my top choice as the next step to pursue my future aspirations. I chose SLU not only for their strong International Studies department, but for their study abroad program and partnerships with universities around the globe. In Fall 2016 I intend to spend a semester in Amman, Jordan through the Amideast Program to further study Arabic as the political and cultural landscapes of North Africa and the Middle East. I’ve found that SLU promotes cultural immersion, understanding and global citizenship both in Canton, NY and around the globe and I couldn’t be happier, nor more excited in my choice to be apart of their community.
I find myself nostalgic and ever so grateful for my experience and privilege working with NWCCI and the students that are a part of it. The students have not only left an impact on me, but Edmonds Community College and our community in Lynnwood. I am confident they will leave this country ready to give back to their own and I am honored to say I have been a part of their time here. It is a bittersweet goodbye, to both NWCCI and Edmonds Community College but exciting as both the NWCCI students and I begin new chapters of our life stories.
For more, check out Ivy’s first post on the NWCCI blog.
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. The opinions expressed in this blog by writers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Northwest Community College Initiative program, Edmonds Community College, Whatcom Community College, Pierce College, the United States Department of State or any employee thereof. NWCCI and Edmonds Community College are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied by student bloggers.