Global students shine on campus

Keith Kaczmarek

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International students are among the many unseen student populations at Bakersfield College. Since 1982, those students have been coming to BC to learn, with about half moving on to higher education in the United States.

With recent campus events such as this month’s International Women’s Day event and the “Cup of Culture” event hosted by Chinese students, they’ve been playing an active role in student life at BC.

The hurdles they face coming to BC are not insignificant. Currently numbering only 60 students from 29 different countries, they face a rigorous process to become students at BC. Each pays out-of-state fees of $184 a unit plus a capital fee of $34 per unit plus all other normal student fees, and they are not eligible for financial aid.

They can’t even work on campus at any job funded even partially by federal money and only in extraordinary circumstances are allowed to work off campus.

The American Embassy won’t even accept an application for a student visa unless they can prove that they have access to the funds required to pay for tuition and expenses. Considering the exchange rate in many countries, these costs can drive many parents of international students to take on double or even triple shifts at their work so that their children to come learn in the United States.

“Education is a lot more important in other countries,” said Shohreh Rahman, the counselor for ESL Counseling/International Students for the past 23 years.

On top of that, they are required to have high school education, which in other countries is equivalent to a degree here and includes the mandatory subjects: chemistry, physics, and calculus.

They are also required to have English proficiency, attaining at least the third level in the TOEFL exam, which demonstrates fluency but not complete mastery. Rahman explained that any students come here to take advantage of our “excellent ESL programs” that focus on one-to-one teaching and tutoring. “We are seeing students with much better English skills in the last few years,” said Rahman. “They are very prepared academically, but still some work on their language skills.”

She noted that many professors here at BC are impressed by international students’ drive, critical-thinking skills and academic fitness.

Sasuku Ito, a student from Japan, has been here three years and is now transferring to Cal State Northridge to study economics and is the winner of an International Women’s Day scholarship.

“It’s been my dream since I was in grade school to come to America to study,” she said.

She chose BC because she had been hosted by a family in Bakersfield and wanted to be near her host family.

She added “It’s a smaller city, so you are forced to go out and speak English because there aren’t a lot of people from your country around like there are in bigger cities.”

Rahman said that students come to her in the hopes of studying abroad, but that at this time there were few opportunities. She hopes that one day BC will send its own students to universities overseas.

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