Twelve students from nine different countries entered as part of the first International Fellows program this fall. These students call Ghana, Panama, Trinidad, China, Austria, Romania, Ecuador, Jamaica or Vietnam home.
This fellows cohort was created as a unique way to offset the challenges international students face when they are not just transitioning to college, but also a new country.
The application process for International Fellows is similar to the that of the other fellows programs. The two big changes were the lack of a fellows weekend, which is used in many other fellows programs as a formal interview time and the recruitment process.
"Instead of having one weekend where students are required to come to campus, prospective students were required to take part in an interview over Skype," said Betty Morgan, associate professor of political science. "The recruitment process is a little bit tricky. It can be hard to find students who are confident enough in English to take undergraduate course study in a foreign language."
The international fellows part of the same were all orientation group and they were able to start some programming early.
"On top of the classes we have been helping them assimilate into Elon University's culture as soon as possible," Morgan said. "Helping them adjust to the concepts of engaged learning, civic engagement, global learning and service work, especially since these things are not necessarily something that happens in their academic curriculum back home."
One way students were introduced to American culture early was going to the John Coltrane International Jazz and Blues Festival in High Point.
"It engaged American culture across a broad spectrum,"Morgan said. "We just wanted them to get to embrace the culture and getting assimilated to this life as early as possible."
The 12 students who have entered into the program are currently enrolled in two classes together, including Themes of U.S. Culture, taught by Rich Landesberg, associate professor of communications, and Elon 101.
"The way I am teaching it is U.S. culture through the most popular lens: movies, TV and music," Landesberg said. "And we're going from colonial times to current times."
One of the first things the class discussed was the idea of the American Melting Pot. Landesberg showed the class a video from "School House Rock" and PBS documentaries on immigration. The class then compared and contrasted the exported video culture to reality.
"I jumped at the opportunity. It was a chance to do something I love," Landesberg said. "I love history, movies, TV and American culture. It is great to teach out of my comfort zone."
Programs have been planned for the group to travel during the Winter Terms of their freshman and sophomore years. During their freshman year, students will travel to the Washington Centre . Students will have insider access to areas of society like public policy, international affairs, science and politics.
"On many levels they are just normal students," Morgan said. "They are going through all the same adjustments and quandaries and they are assimilating beautifully. They are making friends, they are busy, they are traveling on weekends. I am really proud of them. And on top of all of this they are doing work in two languages"