By: Alyssa Hernandez, Managing Editor
The Office of Global Engagement enhances students’ cultural knowledge by recruiting international students to come to the university. The international students come to UNCP through the Global Undergraduate Exchange Program.
This program provides students with a scholarship to fund one semester at a different university. The program is competitive and is funded through the U.S. State department. The program chooses the university the student attends.
Jennifer Stockton Locklear, Admin Support with the OGE, is a part of the team that assists these students.
OGE lets the students know what to expect before they arrive on campus, so they do not feel overwhelmed and they offer options once they are on campus. Locklear said that Pembroke has a small-town atmosphere, which feels welcoming.
Thon Le, Victoria Popova, and Bellanovsky Gay are a few students here through UGRAD. Le is from Vietnam, Popova is from Russia and Gay is from Haiti. Each of them said they are enjoying their time studying at the university.
“I am having the best time studying at UNCP as an exchange student. I have had a fantastic opportunity to broaden my horizons, knowledge and network,” Le said. “I can introduce and convey Vietnamese culture to other international students. Besides, I also received a lot of cultural knowledge from friends in the U.S.”
Gay also enjoys that she gets to share her Haitian culture with others while learning about cultures different from her own.
OGE works with other departments on campus to provide global education within that department’s programming for international students, as well as domestic students.
Although they are learning a lot about the culture here, they have also faced challenges.
All of them referenced experiencing a language barrier at times. Le has the most difficulty when her professors speak too fast or when they use words she had not yet learned. Her solution is to ask her friends for help when she does not understand something. Gay recognizes that she needs more attention and patience because she is learning a different language.
“For me, it was difficult to fill out all the documents. It was also difficult for me to create a schedule here. Sometimes it is difficult for me to read because I need to translate the words, but in general, it is fine,” Popova said. “ I do not feel homesick, I feel comfortable here like in my home country.”
OGE tries to make the experience of being in a different country easier for these students. Lockelear said they do this by creating a supportive relationship with the students to allow for communication and trust. They also advise and educate them of any issues so they can make an informed decision about their education.
OGE is cautiously trying to bring back the Study Abroad program.
“Global education across the world took quite a hit during the Coronavirus pandemic. As our nation and our partners move cautiously toward re-opening, OGE looks forward to restarting our Study Abroad program and assisting those prospective students who have had difficulties with closed borders and denied Visa approvals to come study with us once again,” Locklear said.