More international students are studying in United States for diploma

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As senior Fangyi Deng comes home to a compact household with his aunt, uncle, cousin, grandparents and mother, he makes an alleviated shift from speaking English to speaking Cantonese, a southern dialect of Chinese.

In September of 2011, Deng moved from Guangzhou, China to Carmel with his mother while his father remained in the People’s Republic of China for his job.

“The first time I stepped foot in the United States, there were a lot of people, and the air was pretty nice,” Deng said. “I always wanted to (go to America). It

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A HOME AWAY FROM HOME: Senior Fangyi Deng, an international student from China, chats with his grandfather in Cantonese at his house in Carmel. According to Deng, he not only came to the United States for a better education but also came for a better life in general. SARAH LIU//PHOTO

was just a gradual process.”

Walking the halls of CHS, Deng is among the many international students who have moved to the United States in search of increased opportunity. According to a study issued by the Institute of International Education (IIE), a nonprofit organization that evaluates the safety and quality of cultural-exchange programs, more than 73,000 international students acquired a secondary-level education in the United States as of October 2013, a number that continues to increase.

The more recent influx of international students is motivated by possibilities of advantageous conditions in the United States.

“I came not only for the better education and opportunity, but also life in general,” Deng said. “The United States is a developed country and I felt like people have a lot of freedom and liberty to make free choices.”

A “GOOD” DIFFERENT

Sophomore Shubh Dholu moved from Gujarat , a city in Ahmedabad, India four months ago. Dholu moved to the United States due to business and the marriage of his aunt and now lives with his mother and father. Similar to Deng, Dholu said he finds there is a difference of opportunity and choice in comparison to his previous school in India.

“In this school there (are) like 5,010 (students) and in India it was 1,000 people max in one school,” Dholu said. “There are more options with more (students).”

Deng said he notices a range of limitation in terms of academic opportunities in Chinese schools as compared to the variety of options at CHS.

“In high school in China, you don’t get to choose what class you take. Everyone takes the same class and same difficulty, so if you are weaker than your classmates then you don’t have the option. We all take the same class so it is really limited choices,” Deng said.

David Mikesell, coordinator of international student enrollment and counselor, said the possible opportunities available for international students in the United States as well as at CHS in particular are helpful for international students.

“A lot of it is just family relocation. (The United States) is the land of opportunity,” Mikesell said. “For some students, the United States is what they look to.”

“I don’t think that it’s by accident that they end up in Carmel. I think they end up here because the school district is so great,” Jeannine Robling, English as a New Language (ENL) Instructional Assistant (IA) said. “They know that it’s a place were ENL students can thrive.”

As foreign exchange students have long been part of many American high schools, international students have outnumbered the amount of students received through exchange programs.

The number of international students enrolled directly in U.S. secondary programs more than tripled from fall 2004 to fall 2013, while the number of exchange students grew only about 15 percent during the same period, the IIE study found. While cultural exchange programs remain popular, Mikesell said the United States has become a destination spot for international students and their parents.

“The percentage is really pretty pronounced,” Mikesell said. “You can see it walking in our hallways. The parents are looking to afford better opportunities for their children that they may not have in their home country.”

In the same report from IIE, compared to Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, the United States hosts a much large number of secondary school students, which is also the case at the postsecondary level.

“They are not an isolated group. It is a large group of students and they are able to mix well with our students,” Mikesell said.

In addition, Mikesell said students are likely to pursue “social and cultural” goals and provide CHS students with perspective.

“They have had a multicultural experience,” Mikesell said. “They’ve lived abroad and some of our students haven’t had that opportunity. It’s good for our students to be able to talk to others who’ve been in different situations; who’ve been in different countries. They expand their world view.”

A SECOND EDUCATION

Han.Graphic.9.16Having only lived in the United States for one month, junior Artur Fagundes moved from Porto Alegre, a city in the south of Brazil. He came to the United States with his parents and his sister because his parents aspired to study at IUPUI. As he notices similarities between the city of Indianapolis and his city in Brazil, he said American culture impacted his views.

“I think that what most impacted me was that all the people are educated. They open the door for you. This is not normal in Brazil; they throw trash on the ground,” Fagundes said. “Here is way better in this aspect. I like Carmel because it’s calm. You go to your house and it’s quiet, which is different in Brazil because there is music all around.”

In addition, the worldwide cultural view that these international students provide to CHS includes proficiency in languages. Deng is proficient in Cantonese, Mandarin and English; Dholu is proficient in Gujarati, Hindi, Sanskrit and English; Fagundes is proficient in Portuguese, Spanish and English.

Similar to Deng, Dholu and Fagundes, the IIE study noted nearly 70 percent of the 73,000 international students enrolled in American high schools in 2013 were pursuing their entire degree in the United States.

Mikesell said, “Once those students are here, they are really judged in comparison to their peers from these American schools. Some colleges don’t necessarily give added weight to a student being an international student, whereas, if they were coming from their home country, the colleges are always trying to build a well-rounded student body and so they might take a certain amount of foreign students, but once the students are here they are really treated like an American student,” Mikesell said.

In addition to the variety of opportunities for the international students, CHS provides programs to ensure they are academically and socially prepared.

CHS provides an ENL program in order to assist in assimilation and American-style teaching so international students can improve and understand the English language.

“The big thing for those students is, depending on their English level when they get here, is just being able to study in English,” Mikesell said. “That’s where having our ENL classes, and taking English every day can help them along the way. A lot of those students, they are used to working hard in their countries, but maybe they don’t have all of the resources that we have here so that they can really speed things up. I think a lot of those students are hungry for education. They have goals and they are eager to do well here; they are eager to go on to college and do well.”

LEARNING A NEW LANGUAGE

According to Kara House, ENL progress monitor and science teacher, within the program, ENL students get

LEARNING TOGETHER: ENL IA Jeannine Robling helps junior Andro Tawadrous, an international student, with social studies homework. Robling said her favorite part of her job as an ENL IA was the knowledge she has gained about different cultures. “We both learn together,” Robling said. SWETHA NAKSHATRI // PHOTO
LEARNING TOGETHER: ENL IA Jeannine Robling helps junior Andro Tawadrous, an international student, with social studies homework. Robling said her favorite part of her job as an ENL IA was the knowledge she has gained about different cultures. “We both learn together,” Robling said. SWETHA NAKSHATRI//PHOTO

special instruction in English in a more sheltered environment. Additionally, House said CHS is introducing new aspects to Global Connections, a club that associates with international activities.

“Right now, the first piece of Global Connections is the tutoring part that we have started, where non-ENL students are tutoring or just helping (ENL students) study during SRT and helping out ENL students,” House said. “The second component of that will be more club activity-type things. That will start sometime this semester and that will be a club for any student. It’s open to international or native students that are interested in learning about their cultures. The third component of the Global Connections will not happen until next year, but it will be more of a one-on-one mentoring program. When new students come in, they will have another student mentor to help them with the transition and every aspect.”

Robling said the ENL program is an asset to the living and learning of the international students at CHS.

“I think it really helps them,” she said. “I think it just introduces them to Carmel High School and really makes the feel a part of a smaller community because it’s such a big school. I think it would be even more difficult if they were on their own in a school of 5,000 people, but we have Egyptian friends who are friends with Chinese people; just unlikely friendships that occur because we are this tight-knit community. I do like the sense of community. I feel like we are all in this together. I never want them to feel like they are separate from anybody. They are ENL students, but they are Carmel High School students. That’s who they are.”

A WHOLE NEW WORLD

Despite the opportunities these international students pursue in their English language studies, there is an unexploited awareness of the difficulty of assimilation to a new country: it’s a whole new world.

“It’s always hard adjusting because you’re not just dealing with learning academic things, but you are also learning new cultures, new foods, new friends, a whole new way of life,” Robling said. “That combined with new content material; it’s really difficult for them.”

“The worst part is the friends, the group, timing; it’s just tiring,” Dholu said. “I want to tell that it’s not easy to come in a different place. It’s a little hard, but its fun. Its good to experience new things.”

Drawn by the prospect of a more comprehensive, global education, the more significant impact for these international students is the assurance that they can search for positivity in the experience.

“I miss Brazil,” Fagundes said. “The first day was a little bit difficult, but now I am getting better. I just am loving high school. Big school, different classmates, guys from all over the world. I like this.”

Deng said the impact of his relocation to the United States is evident in his perspective and his character.

“Personality-wise, I became more outgoing,” Deng said. “I think I became more willing to try new things because of the living environment and also, more willing to meet new people. My opinions on things change everyday because I have another additional viewpoint.”

Dholu, blushing, said, “My first time in the United States was wonderful. I was so delighted when I landed in Chicago,” he said. “It was beautiful.”

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