By Isaac Katz, Student of Communications/PR
Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” At Camden County College, it is the responsibility of the staff and faculty to give students the education they need to succeed. Each year, as more students attend the college, the amount of students coming from other countries grows too. That is where the department of ESL/ International Student Services comes in.
Jesse Orlando is the Director of ESL/ International Student Services. When foreign students want to obtain an education at CCC, he is the man they talk to. In dealing with international students, Orlando faces an array of unique challenges. Some of these challenges include changing the person’s status from “Every Day Joe from Country X” to having a full F-1 (student) visa. Other times, it includes changing their status from one type of visa to the F-1 student visa. Often, he has to deal with moral and ethical situations regarding termination of a student’s status, which happens every month.
Students who do succeed in obtaining an F-1 visa must abide by two basic rules in order to keep their status. The student must be enrolled full-time, and they must show academic progress. If a student is found to violate either of these conditions, Orlando has to make the decision to terminate their status or prove that the student deserves to stay here. One ethical dilemma which arises frequently is dealing with the students’ financial situation.
It is illegal for a student to work anywhere but on campus. Most students’ funding comes from their families abroad. However, in most cases, students are working here in the States; illegally. If a student is found working illegally, their status is terminated. They lose their privilege to study here, are deported, and usually face jail time or worse.
Orlando uses ‘letters of responsibility’. These are contracts he uses to set boundaries so students know what the rules are and the ramifications should they break them. Going back to the financial struggles many students face, he tells them, “If you’re working, don’t tell me about it, or I have to terminate [you].” When forced to terminate a student’s status, Orlando states that “I feel like I get more upset than they do”, showing his understanding of the gravity of their situations. Sending a student back to Sierra Leone for trying to make a few extra bucks for food or new shoes is not something anyone would want on their conscience.
Students come from all over the world to Camden County College. Rokya Alao-Fary and Edson Khaled are both students hailing from Benin, West Africa. Khaled wants to study Civil Engineering, while Alao-Fary is pursuing a degree in International Relations/ Diplomacy. They said the process of attaining a student visa in Benin is a long process, including lots of paperwork, interviews, and trips to and from the embassy. Khaled stated that other than the language barrier, the hardest thing for him is being away from his family and friends. This corresponds with Orlando’s statement that most students show “tremendous family closeness”.
Many students, like Anna Guskova, 25, from Russia, find the language barrier difficult. She stated, ” When I just started to study in CCC the main challenge for me was language. But in two years of studying my English improved a lot, so now I feel free to talk and to write, which helps me In understanding of my major`s subjects.” Like many previous students, these international students’ educations are made possible with the help of Jesse Orlando and the Department of ESL/ International Student Services.