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International students discuss their lives and goals in America

by Alexandra Weaver- Lifestyles Editor
Tue, Sep 12th 2017 07:00 pm
Photos by Alexandra Weaver/LIFESTYLES EDITOR
Fabio Carbone, Graduate Office Assistant at the Office of International Education at his desk.
Photos by Alexandra Weaver/LIFESTYLES EDITOR Fabio Carbone, Graduate Office Assistant at the Office of International Education at his desk.
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With each school year, The College at Brockport welcomes new and returning international students. These adventurous learners embark on a journey much like any other Brockport student. It’s a journey of self-discovery, empowerment and growth. Their journey is also more complicated than traditional students’ in some ways. International students are often far from home, may face a language barrier or experience prejudice. Despite these adversities, Brockport’s international students wake up every day on a mission to learn and better their lives, just like every other student on this campus.

According to Fabio Carbone, a Graduate Office Assistant at the Office of International Education, there are 102 international students on campus. About 16 are foreign exchange students and about 64 have F1 visas, which are non-immigrant student visas, and intend to receive their degree from Brockport. The rest have other visas or are residents of New York State.

Carbone himself is a 34-year-old international student. He’s from Reggio Calabria, a town in Italy. After working as an accountant and then a teacher for two years, Carbone felt unsatisfied with the jobs he had been working. He decided that he wanted to go back to school and leave Reggio Calabria because there weren’t enough satisfying job opportunities there for him. He settled on coming to Brockport because his wife’s cousin lives in the area. That branch of the family has lived in the United States for 50 years.

Carbone will soon graduate with his master’s degree in public administration. He’s worked in the Office of International Education for a year, and in that time, he’s grown to feel at home. He hopes to get a job working there after he graduates because he loves working with other international students and sees an inherent value in the school’s international program.

Carbone describes the program as “a step for the campus to have more diversity … it’s the opportunity to meet someone who’s of a different background and understand a different culture.”

Andres Zamora-Cruz, 26, is an international graduate student, who is just beginning his graduate studies. Zamora-Cruz has wanted to be a paleontologist ever since he was young. He was born in Mexico City, where there are much fewer opportunities to become a paleontologist ,so Zamora-Cruz decided that America was the best place for him to follow his dreams. He has a bachelor’s degree in geology and is currently studying biology and ecology.

Zamora-Cruz became a U.S. citizen only a month before the 2016 election, which he voted in. He has two old friends who are DACA recipients, one of whom supported President Donald Trump. The irony of his old friend’s situation was not wasted on Zamora-Cruz.

After navigating through long and arduous process of obtaining his citizenship, Zamora has found himself in a position very similar to that of many citizens who were born here. He is grateful for the opportunities this country provides, but also sad that so many people in this country shared the same sentiments towards immigrants as Trump.

Freshman Mars Jong Min Lee also has close ties to America. She was born in South Korea, moved to California when she was only a preschooler and then spent 14 years living in Singapore. Because she left at such a young age, she doesn’t remember much about her home country. She has visited South Korea as a tourist. 

South Koreans would describe Jong Min Lee as a “guyopo,” which means that she is a South Korean citizen who has lived overseas for a long time. Jong Min Lee says that one of the things she likes best about Brockport is that she can always see the sky, the stars and the moon. Singapore is filled with tall buildings that obstruct the view of the sky. She’s still wowed by the night sky.

Jong Min Lee is a nursing major. Like many freshmen, she’s not sure what her long term plans are yet, but in the short term she knows that she wants to join the International Student Organization. Since she has lived in the U.S. and abroad, she has experience with both cultures. She wants to help other international students learn how to navigate American culture and society by using her own experiences. She’s also starting her first part-time job soon. She’ll soon be working as a night desk attendant in Gordon Hall.

Jong Min Lee decided that she wanted to be a night desk attendant after bonding with her RAs.

“The RAs in Gordon Hall are super cool,” Jong Min Lee said.

Smarika Bajracharya, the president of the International Student Organization, has also found her niche on campus. Bajracharya is a junior majoring in computer science and minoring in math and business. After internships and grad school, her goal is to move back to Nepal and start her own software firm. She decided to study in the U.S. because colleges here offer a wider range of subjects for students to study.

“Back home it’s not the same,” Bajracharya said. “The education system is not that good because of the political situation.”

Nepal is currently run by Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kumar Dahal. His is the ninth government to take control of the country in eight years.

The same things that have drawn the best and brightest from all around the world to the U.S. are still very much the same things that draw them today. People who choose to come to the U.S., and especially to study in the U.S., often do so because there are more opportunities for success and education here than there are in the country they were born in. Brockport’s international students and those from other schools get an education here so that they can stay here, return to the country of their birth or possibly even move again, and create a productive and happy future for themselves in a career they love.