From the gradual decrease of international students since 2001, the university has sparked an increase of international interest by re-implementing the Intensive English Program (IEP) in fall 2010. The IEP is a “sheltered program for those who don’t speak English,” said Piram Prakasam, director of International Education.
The optional IEP, which was removed in 2005, restarted with 13 students in fall 2010 and has risen to 32 students within one semester. The IEP is three semesters long and teaches students, with no prior knowledge, English. This prepares international students with the English skills needed for their desired major and gives them a better ability to connect with domestic students.
First year international student Omar Al Rashidi is enrolled in IEP. He said, “The university helps all people out.” Al Rashidi plans to go into the health care program after he completes the IEP.
The number of exchange students on campus is less than 2 percent of all students. Some current domestic Ferris students have yet to experience what international students may offer. Amber Moffit, a health information technology junior at Ferris, said she did not know any international students.
Construction management senior Kevin Osbeck said, “There should be more involvement with exchange students, because everyone has something to gain from that experience.”
From Afghanistan to Vietnam, students choose to earn an education in Big Rapids, which is bringing domestic students new cultures, languages, values and customs to interact with. The Office of International Education hopes to continue educating an increasing number of international students in order for domestic students to experience diverse cultures in one location.
“They can change the domestic student perspectives about American culture or cultures around the world without going anywhere else,” said Kiyoko Metoki, coordinator of IEP.
Those who have interacted with international students said they have learned quite a bit just by talking with students who speak a different language.
Kayla Blomfield, a freshman pre-physical therapy student, referring to her friend from South Korea, said, “If he doesn’t know a specific word, he always asks what it means. It’s so crazy to think about ways to describe a word that it seems like everyone knows.”
The international students are able to share their lifestyles with the American culture if domestic students, specifically here in Big Rapids, are willing to interact with them. Students may find similarities between international and domestic Ferris students, including a dislike of the Michigan winter weather.
Prakasam predicts the overall international enrollment will increase in fall 2011 to 225 international students because of the IEP and the other resources the university offers. This includes different recruiting techniques, study abroad programs, guest speakers, dialogues and creating new courses for students.
“Your job may be anywhere in the world. You must be comfortable in traveling and seeking opportunities. We see it as our responsibility for local students to be globally compatible,” Prakasam said.
For a listing of international events on campus, visit the campus calendar online or contact the Office of International Education at ext. 2450 for more information. n