By Amil Kusain Tan Jr.
Hello, Annyeonghaseyo, Salam, Mabuhay, Khỏe không, and Bwanji were the words spoken by the international students as they met each other during the international orientation held at SPC Clearwater campus January 8, 2015, for the opening of the spring semester. The participating students came from various parts of the world such as the Canada, Ireland, Korea, Morocco, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, and Zambia. The atmosphere was filled with excitement. There were some worries and concerns about succeeding here at SPC as an international student; however, these issues were gradually addressed during the orientation, which made the students feel at home and confident in their studies. This is what orientation is all about: setting the mood and lessening the anxiety of the students.
The orientation started around 10 in the morning. This was headed by Mrs. Angela Cole, the SPC Clearwater and Tarpon Springs campus international coordinator. The head of the international students club attended and facilitated the program. Ms. Cole introduced herself to the international students and explained her role. She presented a brief presentation about greetings in various languages. This was followed by an overview of American culture such as greetings and handshakes. Afterwards, a self-introduction was done through a game. The students were asked to state their name, country of origin, and the courses they are taking at SPC. The tricky thing about the game was the memory part. Each student was asked to memorize the names of the students starting from the first presenter to the last presenter. It was tricky because just pronouncing the names was quite challenging! The students had fun with the game and were able to get to know each other.
After the introduction among students, Mrs. Cole presented Mrs. Ramona Kirsch, the Director of the Center for International Programs. She gave a speech welcoming the international students and presented the international programs and different services available to help them. Following the presentation of Mrs. Kirsch, Mrs. Cole showed a welcome video from the SPC president Dr. William D. Law, Jr. Dr. Law welcomed and wished the students success in their career at SPC.
The formal orientation started by giving the international students facts in maintaining their immigration status while attending St. Petersburg College. This was followed by an overview about the US health care system and health insurance, as well as questions and answers. A short free lunch was served to the international students. The lunch consisted of a turkey sandwich, salad with a variety of dressings, grapes, cookies, chips, and drinks.
The afternoon session started at one in the afternoon. The highlights were the campus tour at SPC Clearwater and presentation of the “Road to Success: student success” and “My Learning Plan (MLP)”. The campus tour was facilitated by the head of the international students club using a game called a passport hunt. The students were given a passport for each department or service they visited during the campus tour to stamp with different designs. The campus tour covered important offices and buildings like the library, student services, lounges, administration building, career and advising department, bookstores, and other support services.
The orientation ended with questions and answers for students. The international students were given freebies such as an ID sling with a USB, orientation pack, stress ball, Frisbee, and the SPC student activity calendar. The international students had a long day but were very delighted with the success of the orientation. Being an international student poses many challenges such as language, food issues, and new customs, but it also gives an opportunity to expand one’s horizons. This will allow students to have a new and different perspective in life. In summary, this is a venue to grow their potential. SPC and the international department would like to become a bridge to success and make the students feel that they have a new home away from home.