Break from studying, time for fun….

The international students of Montgomery College – Rockville, got together for a study break and to build camaraderie at an event called “ Break from Studying – Time for Some Fun.”  last Friday, April 29, 2011  in Derwood, MD.

The International Students Connection, a group  of American and international students aims to help the students get connected,  to foster friendship and help them adopt to the American culture.

For Dan Patch, a former student of Montgomery College – Rockville,  leading the group is a personal choice.  “ I enjoy interacting with people, learning their language and culture…and helping them get connected.”

The International Students Connection in Rockville  was  started in 2007 through the effort of Charissa Galbraith, a former student of Montgomery College.  It was only in the last two years that the students were getting involved in the group’s activities.   During the first year around 30 international students actively participated in the events.  In the second year, the figure increased to 40.

In a telephone interview with Marlon Vallejo, International Student Coordinator – Montgomery College – Rockville, he said,   “There are around 5,200  international students currently enrolled in the College.  One thousand two hundred   are holding student visas and  4,000   are holding  other visas”.

According to  International Student Newsletter, “The USA has the world’s largest international student population, with nearly 600,000 students choosing to broaden their education and life experience in the United States. Nearly 4 percent of all students enrolled in higher-level education are international students, and the numbers are growing. From the mid-1950’s, when international student enrollment was only just reaching 35,000, international education in the USA has come a long way.

In the sprawling grounds  of their  home, Mariel Thomsen and her sister Jenna, in the presence of their  parents, received around  20 students.

The   kitchen counter was full of  mouth watering pastries and a bowl of strawberries, some were brought by the students themselves. Milling  around  the kitchen, the international students from different countries who  spoke  different languages, having different skin colors,  different personalities  and cultures,  introduced  themselves in English, laughing  and exchanging  news about school and the forth coming  final examinations. The mood of the  night was lively.

Chin Nguyeh an international student  from Vietnam is taking up English and Physical Education.  He came to the event to meet new people and talked about his plan to go home to help people in his country.   His future plans  includes studying in the University of Maryland, in Shady Grove. His difficulty includes learning the English language.

Another international  student, Anna Lindholm from Germany is studying English and Math. She chose Montgomery College – Rockville,   because her family lives  nearby. She said that “Montgomery College is a very good school.  One of the best community college in the country”…”{[the College is]} one of the diversified College in the country,” she added. She plans to continue to study in the University of Maryland, Shady Grove. Her future plan includes  travel around  world.

Still another international  student from Nepal, Pratima Khadka is taking up General Studies. She said her plans for the future ARE  to marry and have three sons and two daughters. At the moment, she is having a good time.

Mariel,  the gracious hostess,  offered her specialty for the night, Mariel’s marvelous chocolate cake. She said of  the international students, “I love getting to know people from other parts of the world and learning about different cultures. I also love doing what I can to help international {students) get adjusted to America and become comfortable in this new culture.”

Not all students are lucky. Mai Dinh from Vietnam will lose her sponsorship soon. She is hoping to find another sponsor. Mariel,  not quite sure how these sponsorship works, planS  to give Mai   some names  whom to contact  for a place to stay while she (Mai) is working on her sponsorship. These are one of the help the group can extend to the students.

Towards the end of the night, in the living room of the Thomsens, the students gathered  near the piano  and played the game  Apples to Apples.

Here are  the rules of the game:  Each player is given seven red cards printed with  the nouns. The   green card printed with adjectives  is drawn by the  judge or the chosen player and shows this to the other players and they in turn select the best theme from their noun card to match the adjective card.  This game hopes to help  the international students learn  the English words and their meanings.

It was a night to remember and the group hopes to conduct more  interesting  events and attracts more students to actively participate in the future.  In the words of Dan Patch, “we  are doing this not expecting anything in return.”

By: Jocelyn Bautista

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