SUNY?Fredonia Welcomes International Students

FREDONIA – The State University at Fredonia recently welcomed dozens of new international students who have arrived on campus for the spring term at a welcoming ceremony at Rosch Recital Hall.

Numerous flags representing the homelands of all 235 of SUNY Fredonia’s international students, both undergraduate and graduate, were displayed above the stage. International enrollment has grown by more than 60 students compared to the fall 2012 term, with seven nations represented among this newest class, including China, India, Jamaica, Japan, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and South Korea.

The students were first welcomed by Virginia Schaefer Horvath, SUNY Fredonia president, who said how excited the campus community was to have them among the student body. She also encouraged them to ask questions and help Fredonia’s American students better understand their cultures and traditions.

Kevin Kearns, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs, commented on the bravery the students have shown in accepting such an opportunity to live in and learn from a culture that is so very different and far away from their own.

Ted Schwalbe, coordinator of international learning and a communications professor, reminded students they may be the very first people from their respective countries some area residents have encountered – a significant responsibility which they bear.

Lastly, Daniela Peterka-Benton, an assistant professor of criminal justice and a native of Austria, said it wasn’t very long ago that she was in a similar situation as a young student studying abroad. She encouraged them to reach out for help and guidance if they should experience some challenging times, assuring them that whatever uncertainty they might feel, it is normal and shared among the group.

The program, organized by director Mary Sasso and her International Education team, also featured performances by Yong (Melody) Zhang, a junior music performance major in piano, the campus President’s International Student Award winner and Global Student Ambassador who hails from Hangzhou, China; and Ji Hyun (John) Chung, a junior voice major from Dong Du Chun, South Korea.

Near the conclusion of the program, each student came to the stage and introduced him/herself, shook hands with Horvath and received a SUNY Fredonia pin from Kearns.