Eight participate in new international program

Published on: October 14, 2009

Eight international students are learning all about American culture as they study business in a new Community Colleges for International Development (CCID) program at Lone Star College-CyFair.

Participating in this year-long program are Nicole Cristiane Gica from Brazil, Ebony Bovell from Panama and Ahmed Awad, Bishoy Youssef, Makary Ishak, Alaa Salama, Mohamed Mansour and Tamer Elshamy from Egypt.

One student who said she has been studying and learning a lot on and off campus is Gica. She is pursuing a general business certificate while at LSC-CyFair, but her ultimate career goal is to work as a researcher in Neuroeconomics.

“It may sound strange, but for me the most challenging is shopping for food in the supermarket,” she said. “This is almost the same from my home country (Brazil), but here the variety is tremendous, so you need to spend a lot of time choosing among all those options, and that is hard to me.”

Adapting to the class schedule and amount of reading professors assigned was also a challenge for Gica.

“The method used here is completely different from Brazil, so in the first week I wasn’t able to manage my time very well because I had a lot of homework to do,” she said. “But now I know how each professor works and I can manage better the time with the schedule and my own activities.”

Faculty and staff at the college are working closely with these students to develop their academic skills as well as become accustomed to the college and American culture.   

While the students are housed in the Lakeview Lofts, a Caldwell Companies apartment complex adjacent to the Barker Cypress campus, several faculty and staff members have volunteered to serve as mentor families and help provide additional support. The students  meet with their mentor families at least twice a month to plan social activities such as athletic events, plays or community service projects as well as to just visit and share in family meals, traditions and celebrations.

Every Friday, the CCID students meet with the local advisory group comprised of LSC-CyFair faculty, staff and administrators to talk about concerns, celebrate achievements and share information about upcoming system-wide presentations, Student Activities events and campus events such as International Education Month and Heartwalk in November.

Another exciting program that was developed for both, the CCID students as well as area students, is the Global Leadership Academy. The goal of this program is for the students to share information about their cultures and traditions as well as develop their leadership skills. Activities include monthly outings to visit area landmarks, civic buildings, cultural centers and educational institutions. In addition, the program offers service learning and cultural immersion opportunities as well as sensitivity and community building activities.

Gica is excited about the academy, which will allow students to meet and get to know a variety of American leaders as well as to build relationships with those from differing backgrounds.

“I am sure that when I understand better how things work here in the U.S., I will be able to comprehend better my own country and have a more broad idea of politics and leadership,” she said.

In addition to growth and learning through academic, community and leadership opportunities, CCID also offers internship opportunities for students to gain experience related to their field of study.

For information on the CCID program at LSC-CyFair contact Loveen Bains, program coordinator, at 832-482-1035. For information on Lone Star College’s International Programs and Services, go to LoneStar.edu/ips.