Batavia, NY- For some students, arriving at Genesee Community College last month involved a 38-hour journey over three continents. Others drove down from Canada. Still others went to the embassy miles from their home, hopeful they would be greeted by a government official who was in a good mood and who would approve their paperwork. Such toils were among the many stories GCC’s international students shared about their journey to Batavia, New York.
This fall, GCC welcomed the largest number of international students in its history with 141 students representing 19different countries. While nearly half of this international student body is from Japan, the College was also delighted to welcome 14 students from Curacao (Netherlands Antilles), 13 from the United Kingdom, seven from Brazil, six from Canada and three from Ireland. Other countries represented this year include Korea, Mozambique, Spain, Timor Leste, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Ivory Coast, France, China, Croatia, Bangladesh and Viet Nam. There are also more than a dozen students from others countries who are studying at GCC through the College’s online programs.
GCC was equally pleased to welcome six students from Nigeria, including Hamma Saleh Yusuf and Job Ayuba who were celebrating Eid al-Fitr this past week – the three day celebration marking the end of the month of Ramadan where Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Wearing the traditional dress of their homeland, Hamma, Job, and Govher Hemrayeva, their new friend from Turkmenistan, shared highlights of Eid which translates into “Festival of breaking of the fast.” The celebration brings family together for a big feast, the sharing of gifts, wearing new clothes and expressing gratitude to God.
Both Hamma and Job are playing soccer at GCC, and are enrolled in the General Studies and Sport Management programs, respectively. Hemrayeva came to GCC through the Prep4Success Top Up Scholarship program with the American Councils for International Education Organization. After earning her degree from GCC, her long-term plans include earning a master’s degree and one day working in international relations. The transfer of academic credit, athletic experiences and GCC’s affordable tuition and housing are among the many reasons these students chose Genesee Community College from their distant homelands.
The flags soaring above the College’s cafeteria represent the many countries of students who came to GCC to achieve their own academic dream. As this display of flags continues to expand, the students and the College embrace the institution’s long-term vision and mission “…meeting the needs of a changing world and providing educational experiences which promote…global citizenship.”
“Each year, it is heartwarming to watch our new international students settle into their new home-away-from- home here at Genesee Community College,” Carrie Sputore, international admissions specialist said. “From acquiring and honing language skills to discovering the nuances of different cultures, making new friends, sampling new foods, all while earning their academic degrees and exploring pathways to life-long careers—international students experience so much at the College. And, they do this while contributing so much back to our community as well.”