Being advisers to over 700 students can be no easy job, but two individuals have taken up this arduous task and found it rewarding.
Justin Lampley and Megan Simon are the international students’ advisers at Troy, and the two are new faces in the international office.
Lampley began working in August, and Simon joined him in December.
Lampley had spent three years teaching English as a second language in South Korea prior to becoming an adviser at Troy. He also completed his master’s degree in Australia.
Lampley became interested in Asian culture and liked the fact that 75 percent of the international students at Troy come from Asia.
“I wanted to work in either student services or with ESL students, and I wanted to stay in the Southeast,” Lampley said. “It ended up working out really well with Troy.
“I was really intrigued with how many international students there are in Troy.”
Simon taught Spanish at different high schools in Florida while also advising the international students who attended the schools.
“Teaching was my full-time job,” said Simon of her previous job experience. “I wanted to work with the international students full time.”
Simon also personally knows what it’s like to be a student in a foreign country. During her undergraduate studies, Simon did a study abroad program in Spain.
“It’s nice when people help you when you are an international student,” she said of her experiences as an international student.
Lampley’s duties include helping students navigate the complex immigration system, getting work permits and Social Security numbers, and making sure all students have proper health insurance.
“Housing is my specialty,” Simon said. “I also help the students do their taxes and help students who are traveling.”
Simon also handles correspondence with students before they come to Troy, giving them information they need to know prior to their arrival in the U.S.
Lampley said he enjoys interacting with the students. “We do a lot of gatherings, barbecues and field trips,” he said.
“We get to shape their perspective of the U.S. and of the South,” said Lampley on the rewards of his job. “Many come to the U.S. with stereotypes. As advisers, we are some of the first impressions that they see.”
“Students feel really grateful when you do anything for them; it can be the littlest thing,” Simon said. “It’s nice when people are thankful for things you do.”
Although there are many rewards of being international advisers, as it is with any job, Lampley and Simon also face some challenges.
According to Lampley, they get a lot of students having financial difficulties.
“A lot want to work while they study, but there are a lot of restrictions on international students working,” he said. “Some have to transfer to less expensive schools.
“Telling students ‘no’ is tough. They ask favors of us, and sometimes we have to say ‘no’ because we have to follow certain guidelines.”
Simon also said that things like doing taxes can be frustrating for some students, and helping them through that can prove difficult.
“Seeing student frustration and not being able to do anything about it is hard,” she said.
According to Lampley, as many students are accustomed to different teaching styles and academic backgrounds, they can struggle to adapt to the American teaching methods and academic regulations for essay writing. He said that he encourages those students to take advantage of the resources on campus.
“A lot of the international students want an American conversation partner,” Simon said. “A lot of times, they just have trouble reaching out and making American friends.”
Simon said that American students can easily help them adjust. “Reach out. Befriend someone in your class, and talk to them. Don’t isolate them.”
Lampley expressed his love for his job in being able to see “the perspective that they (international students) bring to campus” changing once they get used to it.
“It helps me see that we all have something in common, to see how small the world really has become,” he said.
“I love learning about other cultures, and I learn something every day,” Simon said. “I think it’s important for us to understand the world around us because there’s so much out there. It’s more than this small little area that we live in.”
“I hope having the international students here helps the students and the city of Troy,” she said.