Meeting new people and making new friends is never easy. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The only way to have a friend is to be one” — but imagine trying to make friends 3,000 miles away from home, where the language and culture are completely different than what you’re used to.
SLCC International Student Services hopes students will establish close connections with a new program that has been developed.
This semester, International Student Services is launching their new International Diplomacy Program to help facilitate international and domestic student relations here at SLCC.
“We hope to tear down a barrier of fear of talking to somebody who is not from the U.S., and also of international students fear of talking to an American,” Staff Advisor Pauline Fonua said.
Fonua, a former SLCC student, is currently working on her degree in International Studies with an emphasis in Pacific Islander Studies at the University of Utah. She works with the SLCC International Student Services Office to help students become more involved with the Diplomacy Program and the diverse SLCC student community.
“We envision more involvement with traditional American students. We want to see a lot more international students come to Salt Lake Community College because they’ve had good experiences or they’ve heard from their friends who have attended Salt Lake Community College that say ‘I’ve gained a lot of friends that we’re Americans there and I had fun interacting, I got to do things with them’ and they encourage their friends to come here, too,” Fonua said.
International SLCC student David Cordero thinks international students will be able to meet new people and make new friends by being in the program.
“Right now everybody [international students] goes their own way. There’s no relationship between American and international students inside the college here,” Cordero said. “We come here, do homework, go to classes and after that just leave.”
Cordero, a graphic design major from Costa Rica, has been in the U.S. for the past three years. His family is currently in Costa Rica while he studies here at SLCC. He thinks the International Diplomacy Program is a great opportunity for both international students and American students to get to know each other and build relationships.
200 international students are expected to enroll for spring semester at SLCC and about 15 student volunteers currently signed up for the program.
For those interested in applying, applications are available in the SLCC International Student Services Office in the Student Center of the Taylorsville Redwood Campus, or by emailing Pauline Fonua at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are three areas students can choose from by being involved with the International Diplomacy Program: as a Student-to-Student Diplomat, an Advocacy Diplomat or as a Programming Diplomat.
“If you would prefer to just be a student and just make a friend, they’ll [volunteers] be a part of the Student-To-Student Diplomat Program,” Fonua said. “Programming Diplomats create socials for everybody to participate in, create tutoring sessions.”
Advocacy Diplomats volunteer to work the State Legislature and Senate to promote international education and communication.
“It’s definitely targeting towards pushing that barrier away, but really advocating for international education, allowing for students to learn what is being taught internationally,” Fonua said.
Many countries, including ours, are currently in war or on the brink of war and Fonua feels working on international and domestic relations here at SLCC are good for the student body.
“There are so many concerns out there in the news, reasons why we should fear other countries, rather than be their friends, and so I think if we start caring outside of our boundaries, we can realize that they’re humans too and that we’re all capable or working together, and that’s a good thing,” she said.
Fonua expects the program will get students thinking and start to take the initiative in being involved with their campus community, and also start to take advantage of being more informed about global concerns.
“I just see the importance of caring, not only for people in our boundaries, but caring for people outside our boundaries. The importance for not only us individually, but as a whole, as U.S. citizens,” Fonua said.