Trine's international program brings diversity
The multi-national flags fluttering in the new University Center lend more than vivid color to the stunning height of the mall area. They support a long-held goal of enriching Trine University with a culturally diverse enrollment.
This year, 24-year-old Awad Alanazi of the capital city of Riyadh in Saudi Arabia joined a group of about 25 students from his country to study English in Trine's ESL Program (english as a Second Language) before moving into the engineering program this fall. The intense language training, provided by Trine's ESL program, strives to prepare international students for the rigors of the American college classroom in a year.
International student coordinator Mari Williams also provided emotional and social support for the students, forging lifelong memories through trips to Pokagon State Park and Detroit, among other regional destinations. Williams' Friendly Family Program allowed local families to establish friendship and a cultural exchange with the international students by spending American holidays with them and sharing family activities, meals, and outings.
Awad's best memories of the year in Steuben County include trips to Pokagon, where the Saudi students entertained a journalist and his wife with music and dancing from their homeland; a trip to Detroit to experience the city's Arabic culture; and good times with his host family, whom he presented gifts after their year together.
"His host family helped him so much," Williams said. "They opened up to him and encouraged him to speak, even with mistakes. They have made a great impact on his life here in the U.S. " His American family attended Trine's International Night and has continued to invite Awad to stay with them throughout the year.
Awad hopes to return to Saudi Arabia with an electrical engineering degree to improve his employment possibilities. "With an engineering degree, I hope to get a good starting position," he said.
He recommends study abroad. "I encourage all students to go to a new country to experience new cultures," he said. "It will change your life."