Brooke Stobbe encourages domestic student engagement with international students
Pack the bags, board the plane and a 13-hour flight later, they have arrived from China to America. International students attend Fresno Christian and learn American culture and language first hand. Currently, 21 students from Asia and one from the Africa attend FC.
International students adjust from their native cultures to western traditions and practices. AmeriStudent adviser, and campus alumna, Brooke Stobbe, ’12, discusses challenges international students face when studying in a new country.
“One of the biggest things they struggle with is just integrating and learning the ways,” Stobbe said. “I think that is a really basic thing that anyone would have when changing schools. For them it’s just really magnified because maybe they were here before for a semester, but in a different state. Most of them are coming directly from China. It’s not just learning the way our school functions and little things like how to use the restroom during class or what to do when you have a doctors appointment.
To avoid taking a difficult entrance exam, international Chinese student Lei (Shirley) Zhao came this year to study in America at FC.
“I am enjoying Fresno Christian,” Zhao said. “I like P.E. because it has more free time, and it’s easier than my old school’s P.E. class. It is hard to come from China to America because of language and different culture. I came to study in America because to get into high school in China; you have to take a difficult test. America is a new start and a new experience.”
Studying at FC for two years, James Zeng speaks about the difficulty in overcoming cultural differences. Zeng values Stobbe’s help with homework and classwork as he learns the English language. He aspires to attend an American university to become a businessman and then move back to China.
“It’s (Fresno Christian) a big school in America,” Zeng said. “In China, you have to do a lot of homework and take a lot of classes. You have study 8 a.m to 8 p.m. I came to study in America for easier schooling and American universities are better. We have more free time here. Cultural differences make it hard because we don’t understand why people laugh when they do or when they do certain things.”
According to Stobbe, campus students can help international students by engaging in conversation, assisting with homework or sitting with them at lunch.
“With any other student, I hope, that the domestic kids are inviting them to be friendly and inviting them to participate,” Stobbe said. “It’s that kind of stuff that makes them feel welcome. Maybe it’s really hard for the domestic students, I get that. The students are maybe awkward, not super fun or not cool, but these students aren’t going to get better unless they have those people who are patient with them.”
Appreciative of the relaxed academic system, Yupeng (Tom) Bai enjoys typing out assignments rather than writing in pen. Bai expresses interest in the Christian faith. He learns more about God in the campus Bible classes.
“(Here in America) you are getting a better education, and because some Chinese parents, they think their children can get a better education in the United States,” Bai said. “Fresno Christian has a beautiful campus and I like the differences in education like how teachers teach their students. In China, we do writing in pen, but here we can type. I really enjoy Bible class because I am very interested in the Christian faith. God is kind of a mystery that I want to know.”
Stobbe visits the homes students stay at. During the sessions, Stobbe speaks to students to understand more of their situation and how to better help them. Stobbe emphasizes the importance of meetings with students.
“To me, those times with the students are really profitable, even though it has nothing to do with school specifically,” Stobbe said. “If you had a good day at school, you’re going to be friendly and chipper when you get home. I work with a lot of the students that way, I pull them into my office regularly when I know they are having issues. A big thing for me is just encouraging them to do things.”
International students appreciate the support of domestic peers. Comment below how you interact with classmates.@thefeather, Instagram @thefeatheronline and Facebook @thefeatheronline.
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