Linfield College’s small size eases the transition for international students, according to a recent feature in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Linfield typically attracts an unusually large group of international students for its size, and Yin Xiao, a junior from China, says she has been surprised by the number of new Chinese students who have arrived this semester. She says she understands why the new group has more trouble integrating into campus life. But Linfield’s small size offers advantages when it comes to helping integrate new arrivals.
College advisors place international students in dorm rooms with American students so they can integrate more quickly into American life. Linfield also sends most students into a popular home-stay program, called Friendship Families, where students spend time with local families each month. Many international students say they come to think of their home-stay family as a second family.
Finding students from halfway around the globe can enhance campus diversity, but a new foreign-born student community can also pose challenges for faculty and staff. College officials sometimes find themselves restructuring course schedules, searching for advice about cultural practices, and trying to ensure that students avoid a rough landing into American campus life.
“You don’t turn the spigot on too fast,” says Shaik Ismail, director of International Programs at Linfield. “You see what extent it’s causing hardship on that community. Are they sticking together? Are they making American friends?”
Shelly Sanderlin, a 1983 Linfield graduate who now hosts international students, says she knows home-stay students have begun to fit into campus life when they ask to spend Thanksgiving at an American friend’s home instead of hers. “Go ahead,” she tells them, “by all means.”