About 130 new international students from Japan, Taiwan, China, Korea and Saudi Arabia, among others, are attending Eastern Washington University this fall. Of all the colleges and universities in the U.S., why are so many choosing EWU? According to Claudine Richardson, an international graduate student from the Netherlands and former Interim International Admissions Coordinator, international students choose EWU because it has an environment that takes care of them.
The welcoming atmosphere begins when students first discover EWU. The International Education Office (IEO) supplies potential international students with a wealth of information and support from the time they consider attending EWU. The IEO’s Web site http://www.ewu.edu/x2062.xml advertises EWU to potential international students across the globe. It synthesizes the most pertinent information about studying at EWU and provides other information that international students may find helpful. For example, the Web site features testimonials from current international EWU students, which describe their time spent at EWU and give advice to future international students. Since many potential international students search for colleges on the Internet, the Web site plays a crucial role in the recruiting effort. The IEO also uses the Internet to stay in contact with potential students, answering questions on a daily basis.
During the application process, EWU understands that deciding to study abroad can be a difficult decision and can require an inordinate amount of work. Deadlines for admission of international students are relatively late in order to allow students to ensure that they have time to obtain visas and file other paper-work that will make their EWU experience possible. EWU also employs its own immigration officer to aid international students in this process. The late admission deadline gives some international students the flexibility they need to make their study abroad experience happen.
EWU offers a variety of academic programs which cater specifically to international students. The English Language Institute (ELI) provides international students with instruction and resources that allow them to attain proficiency in the English language before they take other EWU classes.
The School of Business Administration draws more international students than any other program on campus. It has an international accreditation, which makes the degree more valuable on the international market. It also offers an MBA prep course in conjunction with the ELI. This allows students to simultaneously work on improving their English while earning credit toward their degree.
Richardson also cites EWU’s affordability as an important factor that brings international students to Cheney. Many international students live here on a tight budget. Richardson explains that many international students are “… working with their government… or they are working with their family members” to fund their study abroad experience. Cheney’s relatively low cost of living and EWU’s reasonable tuition rates allow international students on a budget to have the American study abroad experience.
Campus life also attracts many international students to EWU. Chrissie Peng, an international student from Taiwan, described the people on campus as “friendly, patient. They will talk to you even though they don’t know you.” Peng admits that coming to America, alone, was intimidating. Those first few days were pretty scary, she said. Since then, Peng has made many friends and enjoys going to school at EWU.
EWU’s friendly campus helps recruit new international students as well as making current students feel welcome. Richardson explained that word-of-mouth advertising draws many new students to campus. “[International students] tell each other and tell their friends, and all of a sudden all of them want to go,” Richardson said. Kenneth Capps, International Student and Scholar Adviser at EWU, cites word-of-mouth advertising as EWU’s best recruitment tool for international students.
International students are integrated into EWU’s community in the dorms and in a variety of academic programs. In addition, EWU offers a variety of cultural and ethnic focus clubs, such as the International Student Association. Most of these clubs are listed on the clubs and organizations page on EWU’s Web site. Many of these clubs will participate in an International Week in November.
Capps encourages EWU students interested in being a mentor to international students to check out the International Peer adviser program. Most of all, he encourages EWU students to reach out to international students. “In lieu of studying abroad, it is the best way to learn about the world,” Capps said.
Dean of Students Al Thompson encourages faculty, staff and students to “do whatever we need to do to continue the integration process because we gain so much in knowledge and experience in knowing even ourselves as people by knowing people from other parts of the world.”
If you would like to help welcome new and returning international students to EWU, go to the International Education Office open house. It will be held on Thursday, Oct. 2, from 12 to 1 p.m. in Showalter 127. The office would like to extend an invitation to all EWU administration, faculty, staff and students, regardless of their international background. A variety of free food will be provided, so come meet and welcome the new and returning EWU international students.