Papuan students welcomed to campus
October 7, 2009
Of Corban College & Graduate School’s 15 international students, 13 are freshmen. Eleven of these are natives of Papua, Indonesia, the largest Indonesian province—Papua comprises most of the western half of the island of New Guinea. Arriving at PDX on September 7, these international scholars were eager to settle into college life in America. Corban is meeting their pre-graduate needs. What’s more, the Papuan government is sponsoring their educational investment at Corban.
Steve Hunt, Vice President for Marketing, said it was an honor that the Papuans chose Corban to “further ground them in their faith as they do their pre-graduate work.” He also celebrated that this agreement “furthers our global mission, which is what we want to do.”
The 11 Papuans were specially selected for a matriculation program through the Institute of Surya: Only 100 students from all of Papua were chosen after having taken rigorous tests in physics, math, and English. The students then trained in capital city Jakarta for eight months, especially focusing on conversational English, before being sent out for their undergraduate work.
Corban’s 11 are the only Papuans studying in America. Others from the matriculation program are in Indonesia, Japan, Germany, and Australia for their first degrees. All, however, are working toward doctorate degrees with which they may better serve their province as stewards of its mineral-rich natural resources.
In preparation for the internationals arrival, Corban hired Jeff Benjamin to provide international student support. Benjamin, a former missionary educator and administrator at Black Forest Academy in Germany, is sensitive to acculturation issues, especially those that occur during transition. He has his bachelor’s degree from Biola University and his Masters in Education from Simpson University. “He is their first line of defense academically,” said Director of Student Support Daren Milionis.
Benjamin first implemented a two-day International Student Orientation, fitting for the unique needs of those not only new to Corban but to the country. Additionally, he has provided ongoing support meetings, personal attention upon request, and even fun outings to Silver Creek Falls and Crater Lake.
Now that Corban has familiarized the Papuans to Corban and Salem, Benjamin’s next step is “getting Corban connected to them.” Three Community Life Team members—Rick Saffeels, Jessie Jones, and Stacey Frentress—have been instrumental in furthering this goal as they share how American students can get involved. The plan is to pair each international student with an American “mentor.”
Two alternatives from the general course requirements have also been made, said Benjamin. One is a two-credit version of the challenging, reading-intensive “American Thought and Culture,” which is usually a four-credit course. The other, described Provost Matt Lucas, is a college writing course “that is specifically designed for English Language Learners. The same course outcomes are met, but support is tailored to the ELL’s needs.”
Student Life, too, made many preparations. They facilitated an “in-house” store for the students to select bedding and room essentials; they also coordinated with Corban’s Director of Health Services to get the students their needed vaccinations. Intentional about placing each international student with a roommate from the U.S., Student Life also made sure at least one other international student was placed in the same building. U.S. roommates, too, were not picked arbitrarily, but from those who expressed interest in having a diverse experience.
The Papuan students are thrilled to be on Corban’s campus. Lydia Kwano said, “Corban’s mind and heart to God is important to me.” Kwano also liked the people—“so friendly, like my roommate.”
Victory Rumbewas agreed, “One thing that stands out here: The people welcome us with open arms.” He also said that the group felt safe at Corban, and that Benjamin and Milionis have been very helpful to them.
The big library, computer labs, dorms, gym, and other facilities stood out to William Wanane: “They make it a lot easier, so we can study more effectively.”
Dessi Ronsumbre commented, “Better internet access is really good!”
Corban will continue to value and expand its global connections: that is, with international students (not just through the web). Lucas said, “We have had international students on campus for several decades; however, this is the first time we have had more than 10 on campus at one time. We have 15 on campus and two more from Nigeria expected to come in January. We believe that their presence makes us a better community and we are eager to learn from them as they share their experiences, customs and new ideas.”
Read more from the local Statesman Journal.
By Jenny Hirschfelder, Staff Writer, Office of Marketing & Communications
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