The presence of exchange students help students experience different cultures without ever leaving campus.
“The advantage for the domestic students to have international students on campus is, I think, that they are able to learn a new culture right here in Troy without leaving the country, so it’s a great opportunity for them,” said Maria Frigge, Troy University’s international student adviser. “And also, to be exposed to different languages is good. It gives them some opportunities to learn more than just English.”
Advantages for U.S. students include meeting new friends from all over the world, learning languages and cultures, and, learning how to navigate through all of these things.
“I have more faith in the world becoming a place where people get along better if I can see young people getting to know each other,” said Joe McCall adviser to International Student Cultural Organization, co-adviser to National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a lecturer in Troy University History Department.
Clinton Davis, a senior math major from Walnut Hill, Fla., is a part of many international clubs on campus, such as the International Student Cultural Organization, the International Bilingual Association, and the Russian Language and Culture Club. Davis said that he was happy to meet all his international friends and to learn about their cultures.
Davis is an English language minor. He said that he is fond of foreign languages: he is able to speak English, Spanish, Russian, Ukrainian, South Korean, Portuguese and French.
“I’m really involved with the international presence on campus,” Davis said. “And now, in this semester here at Troy, I’ve got friends from all over the world.
“For me it’s very important because I’ve been able to learn about so many different cultures, and so many different languages, just here in Alabama. Who would know that here in Alabama I can meet people from Ukraine, from Kazakhstan, from Tajikistan, from Korea, China, everywhere?”
Davis said he wants to continue his friendship with international students and to show them as much of his country as he can.
“They greatly broaden my understanding of the world where I live,” Davis said.
Troy University political science professor, Richard Ledet said the presence of internationals in his classes is very important to him.
“I like having international students in my classes because they help us to put American politics into context,” Ledet said. “I like to ask my international students: How are things in your country? How does your government function? How does popular opinion function? How do the people relate to government, for example?
“And I think it helps Americans to understand a little bit more about their government, and about their own country, by helping them to see how things work in other countries. And our international students help us to do that.”
McCall said he got involved in working with internationals first through the students in his history classes.
“One of the most important things about having the international students in my classes, as I teach world history, and since those classes focus on the whole world, having students from different countries with different cultural backgrounds, different religious backgrounds is very important,” McCall said, “in part, because they help me to learn more, to expand more.
“My international students, just by sitting in the class, change it.”
McCall said that at the same time, he became friends with a number of Chinese visiting scholars who lived in the same apartment building as he. He noted that he met his wife, Silvia Li coordinator of special international initiatives at Troy University, here.
“I feel very fortunate to be in Troy, and really pleased, because Troy offered me a lot of opportunities,” said Abdelatif Jouini, a senior accounting major from Tunis, Tunisia. “I got involved in the different clubs. I’m vice president of activities in Troy University’s International Student Cultural Organization. I’m also president of communication at the Tea for Troy Club.