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The Institute of International Education’s (IIE) Student Census
reports that across the U.S., international student numbers rose to an
all-time high in 2008–2009, and JWU’s student population mirrored
the trend. More than 1,500 international students representing 98
countries attend JWU. Ken DiSaia ’87, ’92 MBA, vice president
of enrollment management, pinpoints Asia as the region of significant
growth. “Approximately 60 percent of our international students
come from this region, mostly from China.”
In 2006, JWU had 11 undergraduate students from China. By
2009, there were 297. Today, JWU’s undergraduate and graduate
Chinese students total 497. “These students are determined to study
in the U.S. and are supported by families willing to invest in an
international education,” adds Manny Tavares, dean of international
recruitment and training.
International recruitment’s robust results have allowed JWU to
exceed its five-year goal of increasing international undergraduate
enrollment from 535 (in 2006) to 850, an entire year ahead of plan.
It also resulted in a student body with a higher probability of success
since, historically, international students have high retention and
IIE ranks JWU 106 overall and sixth in graduate international
enrollment, among the thousands of U.S. colleges. “We’re honored
to be such an influence internationally, but our job isn’t just to recruit
international scholars; it’s also to educate, retain and help them
feel at home here,” says DiSaia. “It starts with Admissions and spans
faculty, staff, alumni, students and communities.”
The International Center at the Providence Campus recently
employed Barnga, a card game, to foster intercultural awareness.
Participants began the game with seemingly shared rules. Conflicts
arose as they moved between groups and realized group rules differed.
Participants struggled to effectively navigate the game as they
could only gesture or draw, not speak. “Adjusting to the new game,
new people and new rules without even basic information was challenging,
frustrating and sometimes funny,” notes Providence Campus
School of Arts & Sciences instructor, Erin Wynn. But it fueled
brainstorming around the challenges of cross-cultural encounters,
languages, cultural assumptions and academic differences that international
JWU constantly shapes services, programs and activities to
integrate international students. Groups like I-Club, run for and by
students, help bridge communication and cultural gaps. The Chinese
Student Association in Providence and the International Community
in North Miami, help students meet others from their native countries.
The Friendship Family Program matches international students
with local families, allowing both to gain perspective on unfamiliar
cultures and leading to lifelong friendships.