Local church welcomes large international class to The C of I with quilts
2009. 09. 10.
CALDWELL – Congregants from Faith Lutheran church in Caldwell made more than 40 quilts and collected bed sheets to welcome one of The College of Idaho's largest classes of international students ever. It's the second year that the church's quilting group has made bedding for the students.
The C of I has 42 new international students this fall, and about 80 total international students. The international students represent 40 countries, including Afghanistan, Australia, Belarus, Bolivia, Bosnia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Fiji, Germany, Ghana, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Macedonia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Tajikistan, Thailand, U.K., Venezuela and Zambia.
International students arrive at The C of I a few days before other students and participate in an international student orientation, which gives them an idea of what to expect in the United States, including expectations in the classroom.
"We like to make our international students feel comfortable as soon as they arrive on campus and part of that is having their beds ready, especially since some of them arrive late at night," Arnold Hernandez, The C of I's director of multi-cultural programs, said. "It's a way to let them know they are welcome in their new community."
Faith Lutheran has a 35-year tradition of making quilts for people in need. In addition to The C of I, quilts are donated to the Canyon County food bank, to women's shelters and to the Salvation Army. They used to be sent overseas to third world countries, but the group decided there were needs closer to home.
Lucy Buus of Caldwell has been a member of the church's quilting group for about five years and said the group enjoys the work and making a difference in the community.
"The students can't bring their own bedding because they are limited by how much luggage they can bring," Buus said. "This goodwill is our way of helping them over that hurdle."
C of I student Chantal Umutoni from Rwanda said she was thrilled to see the quilt in her room.
"Receiving the quilt was wonderful and amazing because I was very afraid I wouldn't have anything to cover myself with at college," she said. "Getting the quilt was very welcoming."
The C of I has been focusing on recruiting international students to its campus in recent years to encourage American and international students to learn about each other's cultures in a global economy.
"Students need to learn about other cultures and nations to better understand how the world is shaped on a day-to-day basis," said Brian Bava, admission director at the college. "An international population of this size has a tremendous impact at a small college like the C of I. Small classes that include 6, 8, or even 10 nations represented have a totally different focus than many of the homogenous classrooms found in other institutions within the state."
The C of I seeks participants for Friendship Family Program
The College of Idaho has ways of supporting international students throughout the year, including a new Friendship Family Program that invites local American families to befriend an international student and provide them with opportunities to learn and experience American culture from in a home setting.
"This program will also provide local families with the unique opportunity to learn about other cultures through the international students they befriend," said Sage Mwiinga, international student program coordinator at The College of Idaho.
For information about how to participate, contact Mwiinga at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at (208)459-5024.