On Aug. 31 2016, Ramapo welcomed 37 international freshmen and exchange students from 14 countries. The number of international students and the number of countries represented rose by five and three respectively than that for the class of 2019. Why is it that Ramapo strives to attract more international students and how do international students impact the Ramapo community?
“Ramapo is a public school, largely constituted of local population. Presence of international students opens up domestic students to the world, to the diversity of perspectives,” said Tae Yang Kwak, an associate professor of history at Ramapo.
For the class of 2015, more than 93% of the total incoming freshmen were residents of New Jersey counties, 4% were out of state residents and the remaining were international students from 14 countries including Burma, Sri Lanka among others. A staggering number of 17 freshmen were from Nepal.
“It is vital that we continue to attract new international students at Ramapo since they contribute significantly in enhancing the college experience of all students, by bringing diversity of perspectives, cultural experiences and languages,” said Rajesh Adhikari, the director of International Students and Scholar Services. “International students also help boost the U.S. economy and encourage domestic students to study abroad,” he added.
The presence of international students is felt in classrooms and on-campus student clubs and organizations, including the Student Government Association, and clubs like the International Student Organization (ISO) and South Asians at Ramapo, which are designated for and run by an international majority.
“Personally, I’ve found international students to be of very high caliber. Their passion and desire to learn enriches classroom discussion and promotes critical thinking,” said Kwak.
The Roukema Center for International Education helps and prepares students to deal with culture shock, homesickness and transitioning to life at Ramapo, among many other issues that they might face.
“We get involved as soon as the students get accepted, even when they’re in their home country,” said Adhikari. “We bring them from the airport, watch over them and provide support services even after they graduate.”
The orientation week, organized by the Roukema Center, for the incoming international students in fall 2016 consisted of numerous information sessions, including using and setting up banking in the United States, getting health insurance, adjusting to food, dealing with culture shock and the role of international students at Ramapo. As international students were asked to arrive on campus a week earlier than the majority of the domestic students, they got to know the campus and Ramapo’s community, make friends and go to New York through the ISO.
“I was afraid of not being able to adjust before leaving home but the transitioning was extremely smooth and convenient,” said Anuj Bastola, a freshman from Nepal.
The total number of international students in the United States has seen a persistent rise since the 2005-06 school year, with the total enrollment reaching over a million in 2016, and this has been subject to debate and even criticism.
“U.S. has mediocre primary and secondary schools, but the best performing post-secondary schools, which is vital for innovation, cultural and intellectual development and the overall progress of a nation. We have international students to thank largely for this,” said Kwak. “If fewer internationals start coming in, American prosperity will be jeopardized,” he expressed.