‘International Friendship Program’ Builds Communications and Relationships

by Laura Maginley

Montgomery County Community College students searching for an extra dose of culture, leadership and friendship will find what they’re looking for in the College’s International Friendship Program, which is under the direction of Dilek Arig, English as a Second Language (ESL) Advising Specialist at MCCC.

Arig, who is originally from Turkey, started the International Friendship Program in the fall 2011 semester with the hope of fusing International and MCCC students together.  Beginning with seven pairs (one MCCC student and one International student), the program is currently at 11 pairs and looking to recruit more students.

These International students come from many different countries, including China, Korea, Brazil, Turkey, Vietnam, Iran and Mexico.

“Most of our International students know what they want to study at MCCC, but need to work on English language skills.  The majority are ESL students and are given the opportunity at MCCC to develop their English language and communication skills,” shared Arig.

She also stated that a large number of these International students are permanent and finish out their semesters at the College before transferring to a four-year institution.

Students who participate in the “International Friend Program” must meet as a pair once each week.

However, Arig notes that “many of the pairs meet more than that and socialize off campus as well.”

“The students involved earn volunteer hours through the Office of Leadership and Involvement Program at MCCC,” she explained.

Arig believes that the members of the friendship pairs can significantly benefit from one another.

“Both groups of students acquire friendships on an International level and have the potential to work on or learn a new language. I have had the opportunity to listen to each experience, and it is most rewarding when I learn that the pairs continue to be friends off campus even after the appointed semester for the program,” she said.

Whether it is learning about an array of diverse cultures or how to interact in new surroundings, this program offers advantages to those involved.

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