The rate of enrollment for international students at Mesa Community College is growing rapidly as MCC currently hosts more than 530 students from 50 countries worldwide. MCC has the greatest number of international students in the Maricopa Community College District and “one of the top 40 community colleges in the nation that international students choose,” said Annique Nestmann, director of International Education at MCC. Abdulaziz Algosaibi and Saleh bin Yameen of Saudi Arabia both currently attend MCC after completing Arizona State University’s American English and Culture Program. The two students, both business majors, met through mutual friends after arriving in Arizona. “I plan to work for my family’s company back home in manufacturing supply chains,” bin Yameen said.
Though it could get a bit difficult, most international students manage to blend in well with the rest of the college’s students and cultures. “The responsibility I’ve learned in living by myself here accounts for a lot of the experience,” Algosaibi said, “I was spoiled back home, but now I’ve learned to hold myself accountable.” The students gain not only experience, but opportunity. “It helps international students because they gain a degree from the U.S.A., a prized commodity in many countries,” Nestmann said. In addition to the opportunities it brings the students, she said that “having international students on our campus helps bring the world to MCC. These students bring a different perspective into the classroom.”
MCC’s proximity to ASU is something that also draws international students. According to the Institute of International Education, ASU is currently ranked No. 8 in colleges and universities in the United States along with being ranked 79th in the world by the Academic Ranking of World Universities. ASU also has a wide variety of student clubs and organizations which provide international students many oppurtunities to socialize and to acclimte to their new surroundings. Almost every country has its own association at ASU that provides international students with academic and social oppurtunites to students from that specific country.
The Coalition of International Students coordinates events that include all of the international student associations so students can come together and expereience each other’s cultures. There are also many academic resources tailored to international students, including a special writing course MCC also provides many beneficial oppurtunites to international students, including ESL classes and international student orientation. Despite the help available to them, it can be a difficult to leave everything at home behind and start a different lifestyle in the United States. “It’s important for us international students to not disregard our culture and value,” Bin Yameen said. “I definitely miss being with my family and friends back home, but the opportunity we gain from being here is worthwhile.” Algosaibi agreed. “It is important to represent our culture well.”