In the library, two ladies wearing a wide array of hijabs, strain to locate a map telling them which way to go to find a quiet place to read. Quietly they make their way to the librarian sitting behind the desk to find out where something is located. These are the sights and sounds of a new generation of Rams, international Rams.
Mark Hanshaw, chair of the department of religion and humanities and chair of the international programs committee, said the total number of international students was 50 in 2011, but this year, the number of international students is more than 160.
“That [number of students] creates a tremendous opportunity. It also creates a few challenges along the way,” Hanshaw said. “This is really a dramatic change for our institution, ultimately long-term for the better.”
Hanshaw said having international students on campus gives domestic students the opportunity to have interaction with individuals and cultures from across the globe. He also said it provides students with opportunities to develop skills that will be essential in the work place environment.
“We are all now living in a global community,” Hanshaw said. “That means that all of us increasingly are going to have to, by necessity, engage with individuals that may often come from different backgrounds than ours.”
Hanshaw said due to the influx of international students, Wesleyan has partnered with an English-language program based out of Oklahoma, called The Language Program, to help the development of English language for international students on campuses across the country.
Hanshaw said Wesleyan is the first Texas campus they have worked with.
“We are real excited about this,” Hanshaw said. “That [English language program] is going to create an interesting opportunity for Texas Wesleyan going forward.”
Hanshaw said not only does having this program on campus benefit the international students who are already registered as Wesleyan students, but potential students as well. He said the program should bring students from around the globe who have not yet registered for university programs at any campus to Wesleyan to study English.
“We will have the opportunity to introduce these students to Texas Wesleyan, they will already be here,” Hanshaw said. “They will know about the facilities here and hopefully many of these student will choose to do their studies right here at Texas Wesleyan.”
Bruce McDonald, associate professor of religion and philosophy, said he is enjoying having his multicultural classroom very much.
“Some of them know more about Islam than I do,” McDonald said. “But, I am always willing to learn from them.”
McDonald also said in his world religion class he has about eight students from Saudi Arabia and one in his other world religion class as well.
“I think this is a good experience for [international students],” McDonald said. “I think that this is a learning experience for them, and I think it has been pretty positive.”
Carol Johnson-Gerendas, assistant professor of communications and program coordinator for liberal studies, teaches the freshman Academic Success Experience (ASE) classes at Wesleyan.
Johnson-Gerendas agrees with McDonald and said she has enjoyed having more international students in her classroom.
“It’s been very busy and exciting,” Johnson-Gerendas said. “It really changes the dynamic in the class in a fun way.”
Johnson-Gerendas’ said usually she has between 15-18 students, but this semester she has 30 students, 10 of them are international students, with the majority of them from Saudi Arabia.
“I am very excited to have that many international students in my class,” Johnson-Gerendas said. “It gives them a chance to interact with people they maybe would not have interacted with before.”
Johnson-Gerendas is currently teaching three classes, one ASE class, one English 1301 class and one mass communications class this semester.
“It brings a flavor and variety of spices to the campus,” Johnson-Gerendas said. “It’s now like we are a big stew, and we have all these flavors and spices in our stew, that we really haven’t had before, not in this number.”
Rachel Peel, firstname.lastname@example.org