Press enter after choosing selection

Their Task: Learning The 'American Way'

Their Task: Learning The 'American Way' image
Parent Issue
Copyright Protected
Rights Held By
Donated by the Ann Arbor News. © The Ann Arbor News.
OCR Text

Michele Kotowicz (second from left). acting as interpreter helps Hana Perel of Israel enroll her 12-year-old son Samul in Scarlett Intermediate School. Ronald Williamson, seventh grade house leader, is at lelt. Kotowicz works with International Neighbors, a community organization which extends friendship, understanding and assistance to foreign women while they are living in Ann Arbor. BY ZADA BLAYTON Stall Reporter The incoming foreign student at the University of Michigan is a lot different than the average American freshman entering the U-M. The average age of the foreign student is 35. Hall of these students are married and half have been professionally employed before they have returned to school status of the 2.095 foreign students who attended the UM last year 79 per cent were male and only 26 per cent were here at the undergraduate level Jon Heise, director of the International Center 603 Fast Madison St.. aid these foreign students represented 93 countries. The majority of students coming from neighboring Canada, Iran, the Republic of China, India, Hong Kong and Japan in that order Countries with fewer than 100 students attending U-M but more than 50 students were the Republic of Korea, Nigeria, Thailand, Venezuela, and the Philippines, The International Center is part of the UM which, according to program director Ellen Kolovas, fills in around the edges for the foreign student, offering what administrative offices or teaching faculty can't. The International Center holds weekly coffee hours for students and discussion groups on subjects cover ing, for example, shopping in Ann Arbor, car purchasing, how to deal with the bureaucracy at the U-M study skills, how to relate to a professor, and family life in the United States. Jim Montgomery, foreign student adviser at the center, says the largest number of questions asked by foreign students at the center is on the subject of immigration. What papers are necessary for a trip to Canada to Mexico? When and how often should the student notify the Immigration Department of his or her student status and address? How do they or their Spouses gain permission to work? Mongomery keeps up to date on immigration laws so that he can answer these questions. There are about 20 to 30 different classifications a foreign student may have, he said. Most foreign students at the U-M and their spouses are in classifications which do not allow them to work. But it is possible for the student or spouse to change their classification so that they can work provided they have a specific offer of employment, he said. The International Center with a staff of 10, does not lead the foreign student around by the hand. The center aims at helping the students help themselves, said Kolovos. She said the students do set lonely. Each year there are one or two attempted suicides among foreign students. She said. Kolovos cites another example of how the center fills in around the edges by referring to a couple who had only been in the United States two days when their baby died in its crib. We were there to tell them who to notify and how to make funeral arrangements, she said. Foreign students seen walking around the U-M campus are not necessarily enrolled in regular academic classes here. These students may be students of the English Language Institute (ELI). 2001 North University Building. These students are participating in a seven to eight week English course The average student is in his or her 1976 late 20s, said Roderick Fraser of ELI The minimum age is 17 years old and the oldest student to attend the institute was 72 years old, he said. Seventy-five per cent of the students who attend the ELI are male. But the number of women attending is up 5 to 10 percent from five years ago, he said. Quite often a wife of a regular U-M foreign students will enroll in the courses, provided her husband can afford the $500 per course tuition fee. Most of the students have finished their undergraduate work and have come to this country for their graduate study. These students are not registered in any academic courses at U-M because they are not proficient in the English language. Fraser said about 50 per cent of these students are looking for an academic education in the United States. However even if the student finishes the six offered courses at ELI they will not have enough English to pass the required English test for ad. mission into the U.M he said. Fraser said ELI will counsel the student to seek admission into other colleges or junior colleges which have good English departments set up to teach the foreign student, Fraser emphasized that ELI only counsels these students. Like the International Center, staff try to give students information so that they can do for them ELI has 22 summer sections and 18 sections during the winter and fall terms. There are presently 302 students enrolled in courses at ELI Fraser said most of the students are Arab or Japanese. These students are not on any financial aid. They are taking the English courses because English is the language of international The ELI does have some special activities for these students. This summer a group was taken to see Jesus Christ Superstar because it is a play which can be enjoyed without much interpretation. El also finds conversation partners for students with the aid of Volunteers For International Hospitality Programs (VIHP). Practical learning experiences for the students include a trip to Briar. wood Mall. The students are told to get to Briarwood on the bus. At Briar. wood they are to find certain items at the cheapest price. Two hours later the students are to meet at Farrells Ice Cream Parlour Restaurant at the mall. In one afternoon the student has had to ask directions, make change and find a meeting place, said Fraser Fraser said the students of ELI dress just like the American student in blue jeans and t-shirts the day after they arrive here. And just like the American student they don't like liv. ing in the dormitory and quickly learn to complain. They do like U-M sports facilities and the informality of the American way although for some cultures the change is shocking The biggest complaint is that there is not enough time to practice using the English language. Outside of their structured classrooms it is hard to walk up to someone and start a conversation, he said. The present generation in America is quite intolerant of different kinds of dialect, just as northerners are of Southerners and black people are of white people," he Said A plus for this country in the eyes of the foreign student is the number of free things such as concerts, plays. the library