April 19, 2011
It’s a big world out there, one filled with innumerable languages, cultures and differing ideologies. For a college that prides itself on a dedication to global citizenship, few would argue the immeasurable benefit of bringing the world to Rollins.
“International students contribute to the cultural diversity of our campus, adding breadth and depth to the Rollins experience, both in and out of the classroom,” said President Duncan, whose Internationalization Initiative has been steadily raising the College’s profile in the international community and garnering national accolades.
According to the Open Doors Report, 690,923 international students enrolled in U.S. schools for the 2009-10 academic year, a 2.9 percent increase from the previous year. These students, many from China, India and South Korea, come to the U.S. for an enriched learning experience but end up enriching the learning of their domestic counterparts in the process.
“We are in a global society and we want to make sure we educate our students accordingly,” Director of International Admission Ed Bustos commented. “The benefit for international and domestic students is completely reciprocal. Everyone gains from new perspectives and changing perceptions.”
No one thinks of bringing international students to Rollins more than Bustos who spends more than three months each year travelling to foreign schools for the purpose of increasing the College’s profile in the international community. While abroad – mostly to Latin America, the Caribbean, China, India, and Brazil – Bustos builds relationships with high school counselors, encouraging them to visit Rollins in person. “Once they see it,” Bustos explained, “they can picture their students on this campus.”
Bustos also attends conferences, such as the Oversees Association for College Admission Counseling or Education USA, often giving presentations about liberal arts education and admissions processes. He conducts campus tours for visiting students, families and counselors, often eliciting the perspectives of faculty and current students to help give prospective scholars a holistic view of college life. And when he can’t reach out to someone face to face, Bustos will facilitate a virtual information sessions for dozens of students at once, allowing him to showcase Rollins to students across the globe via the Internet.
“There are many reasons why international students come here,” Bustos explained. “Of course, the weather and, for Latin American and Caribbean students, Florida’s close proximity to home.” But he also knows that international students often choose Rollins because of its commitment to internationalization.
“These students want the U.S. college experience, but they don’t necessarily want to have it at a huge U.S. college surrounded by nothing but US students. They like that they’ll be learning alongside other international students and that their professor is likely to have had a recent international experience.”
Adi Mahara (Class of 2011) is a huge advocate of international learning having traveled to Rollins from Nepal as well as participated in an international semester abroad during his senior year. “If I could speak on behalf of some of my other international friends, I have always noticed that we are able to bring new ideas (or shall I say, different ideas) on many issues that we discuss in class, which I think is valuable for everyone's learning experience,” Mahara said. “We also bring different cultural and traditional practices to the school. Organizations like DESI Club, who organize Diwali Dinner and Holi, educate students and faculty about other religions and festivities around the world.”
Professor of Philosophy Hoyt Edge echoes Mahara’s insights. “I was teaching an Intro to Philosophy course in 2010 to a small group of mostly domestic students plus two students from India,” recalled Edge. “During our discussion of the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, we began talking about the Eastern Communitarian approach to the world, something my domestic students had very little first-hand knowledge of. I turned over the explanation to the students from India, who were able to bring an incredible amount of insightful and enlightened knowledge to the class because they had lived this sort of community-centered life in their homeland. We were so fortunate to have them there to help us all further our understanding of the concept.”
"The presence of international students on the Rollins campus helps create a very global and diverse community,” shared Lucas Hernandez (Class of 2013) who came to Rollins from Rochester, NY. “It is extremely valuable to be in the classroom or at a Rollins event and have international students contribute their personal and insightful experiences. I learn so much about myself and my global community every opportunity I have to interact with our students from abroad.”
The promise of Rollins is that students who enroll here will connect to people and ideas that open their world. That’s a promise that’s fulfilled through every aspect of the Rollins experience from the Rollins Conference Course to the Faculty-Student Collaborative Scholarship Program to the many extraordinary internship opportunities. But that connection to the world also happens naturally and organically every day thanks to the presence of international students who come to Rollins to learn but wind up bringing with them lessons of their own to share.