Jourdan Duncan – Special to The Southern News –
As she sits behind the desk with paperwork lined up in front of her and finishes up a phone call, international student adviser Aliya Amin begins to reflect on her passion to guide foreign students through their journey at Southern.
“I help assist undergraduate and graduate students from around the world to gain admissions at Southern,” Amin said. “I guarantee that their legal documentations are valid and that they have enough money to come here and study.”
The Department of International Offices is located in room 231 of the Adanti Student Center and represents the main place provides various things: department permission, important paperwork and documents, and any additional information. “After they come here, I have to make sure that they maintain their status as a full time student,” Amin said. “I help them with off campus employment and I assist them with social security. I also help monitor their activities, classes, personal issues, and housing. That’s just to name a few.”
Amin serves as the main provider and caretaker for all the international students that make up about 96 countries over the past years at Southern. Amin said she gives the students an orientation and informational session which allows them to “meet other international students and learn the dos and don’ts.”
In order to remain an active student on campus, international students are required to be taking classes’ full time. In addition, paperwork is mandatory when first arriving to the school and must be submitted to the Department of international student services as well.
“They have to have their transcripts evaluated by an outside source which is expensive and can take some time,” Amin said. “Some other problems they have when they come here are trying to get classes’ last minute and not getting full time.”
If their English isn’t up to par, then students must pass the Test of English as a Foreign Language, said Amin. This is one of the many challenges international students have to face when getting an education in a foreign country and new school system.
Amin makes note of the behavior from many international students she interacts with and concludes that “many are shy, especially from Asian countries.”
“They can learn that we all belong to a human family and that we have more similarities than differences,” Amin said, proudly talks about international and national students. “Once they start going out together and talking it works out.”
International relations graduate and Nigerian international student Nnamdi Kmenyonu helps out at the international office as a student worker. Kmenyonu said he has been in the United States for fourteen years and attended Southern as an international student.
“I process the paperwork and make sure it is actually what it should be,” Kmenyonu said. “I give them suggestions on how to deal with the embassies and also help them to integrate into the American culture when they get here.”
Some international students don’t arrive until two days before classes start and are unable to receive a formal orientation, said Kmenyonu. He describes his orientation to be “pretty good” because of the tour they went on covering every aspect of the campus.
“I’ve benefited a lot from being here and I guess that is why I decided to stay, but a few things would be the knowledge, the education, experiences socially, and being able to interact with people from everywhere,” Kmenyonu said.