By: Ziru Zhao — Staff Writer
Recent statistics from Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange show that the number of foreign students enrolled in American universities is constantly growing. The trend is especially noticeable in Ohio, where there has been an almost 60 percent increase in foreign student enrollment between 2009 and 2014.
Nearly 36,000 foreign students enrolled in Ohio colleges in 2014, making it the state with the eighth-largest foreign student population in the United States.
The University of Dayton ranks fifth within Ohio for foreign student enrollment. There are currently 2,224 international students at UD.
The increasing number of foreign students enrolling at UD could indicate they trust the values promoted by the university. Traveling to a new country and entering that education system is a challenge, but the majority of those taking that step are up to it.
I am one of those students.
“I like being part of UD because it makes me feel confident about the quality of knowledge that I get and about my future,” said Yunan Shi, a finance major from Xi’an in northern China. “Although coming to the United States was a difficult step, I do not regret [anything] about it.”
Shi’s response suggests international students who choose UD as their future alma mater trust its quality of education.
To deepen that trust, the university is to ensure a friendly atmosphere, where everyone feels welcome. Chenrui Ma, a 20-year-old from Tianjin, China, believes that UD achieves this task.
“I have many friends in UD,” Ma said. “We have managed to become a great team. I believe that the university has contributed to this through its philosophy of friendship and cooperation.”
Establishing this philosophy and maintaining it is the major task set before the university. Being an international student myself, I know it is not easy to adjust to life in a community that seems absolutely otherworldly at first sight.
However, for the international students interviewed, the process of adaptation was quick and fairly simple.
“It is because the university does not aim to make a coherent whole of its students, but rather tries to nurture the uniqueness that emerges from the differences existing between students,” said Mengshi Xia, an accounting student from Wuhan, China.
Xia plans to use the knowledge he gains at UD back in his home country. Meanwhile, he is taking an active part in various group projects.
“We all know the motto about uniqueness in diversity,” Xia continued. “But UD is the first time in my life where I see a practical implementation of this slogan.”
Group projects are important, but are not the only way to teach students how to benefit from diversity. Campus life contributes to the achievement of this goal in its own, often informal, way.
Shi remembers her first year at UD with a dash of nostalgia.
“It was a really nice time,” she said. “Celebrating Western holidays was a good experience that greatly broadened my horizons. And I was lucky to share some of my native traditions with friends and see that they enjoyed them.”
However, life at UD is not only about having fun. Most importantly, it is a time when students decide what they expect in their future and how they plan to achieve those goals.
A world between worlds
For foreign students, things are a little more complicated. They are caught between two worlds. They have to clearly understand for themselves whether they want to apply their knowledge in their native countries or to become part of America’s melting pot.
UD helps students make the right choices, the ones that help them live fulfilling lives. One of the most important values promoted by UD is faith in one’s own strength. The faith in one’s own strength helps an individual to succeed under any circumstances and in any area of the globe. This faith encourages UD’s students in life-long learning that makes them demanded specialists.
The university equips its students with modern knowledge, and it also inspires them with the belief, that sense of purpose, in industriousness and faith in one’s own strength, which makes them capable and talented individuals—no matter what corner of the world they call their native land.
If you would like to share your experience as an international student in the United States and at the University of Dayton, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: UD international and domestic students participate in American fall traditions at the Fall Festival. Chris Santucci/Multimedia Editor.