The Parthenon

LET ME BE FRANK: ON INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Franklin and friends at Bridge Day.

Franklin and friends at Bridge Day.

Franklin Norton, Social Media Manager

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It was a couple of months ago, and I was driving my car, dropping some friends off at their homes. Just as friends do, we were talking, laughing and sharing about our lives. But there was a single moment where I kind of suspended myself from the conversation and realized how strange this car must have looked: a Ugandan in the backseat, an Indian in the passenger seat, and a West Virginian behind the wheel.

The college experience is a time to learn and be educated, not just in the classroom. It’s a time to learn how the real world works, a time to learn new ideas and a time to explore new ideas. It’s also a time where we form relationships with others, and we learn some of life’s greatest lessons from these relationships as well. One of the most incredible opportunities we have on a college campus is to meet and connect with other students from all over the world, without even buying a plane ticket.

In this past semester, my world has been opened up in a variety of ways. I made friends from different countries, different languages and different cultures, and my life is richer because of it. A study conducted by Elisabeth Gareis, Ed.D. out of Baruch College/City University of New York found that around 40 percent of international students report not having any close American friends. There’s another statistic floating around that says about 75 percent of international students will never enter an American home. This is such a shame! Let’s open our eyes, our homes and our hearts to these amazing people with so much to give. They may not look like me, but we do have one thing in common: we’re all human.

This weekend is the International Festival at the student center. I’ll be there, and I encourage anybody else to be there, too. Learn about another culture, and maybe meet some really great new friends.

Frankin Norton can be contacted at [email protected]

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