According to the Association of International Educators (NAFSA), the United States of America has more than one million international students that in the 2017-2018 academic year contributed more than 39 billion dollars to the economy. The University of North Carolina Charlotte is home to over 1,600 of those students, coming from more than 90 countries around the world.
Besides the great economic impact they bring to the United States, international students are also a way UNC Charlotte has found to promote diversification of their campus and enrich their students with different cultures experiences. The university holds a special office to welcome and take care of these new forty-niners, the International Student and Scholar Office (ISSO).
The director of ISSO, Tarek Elshayeb, defends that international students contribute a lot to the UNC Charlotte environment. In an interview Elshayeb stated, “International Students in our campus and on other campuses in the country, they bring a lot of benefits. They bring a different perspective to the classroom. They come with a different academic point of view. They also give the opportunity for American students to interact with someone from another part of the world, which is also a learning opportunity for both students. And it’s a great way for the international students to learn about the American culture.”
Elshayeb also said that international students are typically examples of academic success due to the support of the faculty, staff and the community around them. Around two-thirds of international students who come to UNC Charlotte are graduate students pursuing degrees in the sciences, engineering or math studies.
The remaining third of international students are typically undergraduate students from all over the world. Paul Di Fazio, an exchange business student from France, arrived in the fall semester of 2018 and will be staying in UNC Charlotte until the end of spring. Paul wanted a chance to study in an English-speaking country and to experience American student life. Paul elaborated on his experiences stating, “I think its an interesting way to share your culture with American people, and a way to learn with them. And what I love the most is all the opportunities that we have when we just come here. If you want to play sports, you are free to find a sport for you to play. If you want to get in a club, there are so many possibilities. We are even able to travel and know the US better. There are so many things that I love.”
UNC Charlotte has many different events to promote the connection between American and international 49ers. In the fall semester, the campus held the Annual International Festival where the international students can display their culture around campus and their own events. Every first and third Tuesday of each month, ISSO promotes the International Coffee Hour, an event where students can chat, socialize, play games and get to know different people around the world. Time and locations for these events can be found at: uncc.edu/programs-workshops.