James Loses to Ben in Battle of Franklins but Joyful Valley Wins Massive with Global College students

New Ph.D. scholar Jacob Ashish (remaining) talks with veteran grad college student Ted Gan at a welcome occasion held by Bridges Worldwide on the HUB-Robeson Center garden. Picture by Monthly bill Horlacher

You have viewed them wandering all-around the group in new weeks. Maybe you have offered them some advice or a sort word of welcome. Additional than a thousand new international college students from scores of nations have arrived for research at Penn Condition.

But what are they contemplating following arriving from nations around the world as diverse as China, India and Saudi Arabia? And what are they experience after leaving behind megacities like Shanghai, New Delhi and Jeddah for minor ol’ Condition College?

I just lately done mini-interviews with 15 worldwide students from eight nations, and I’m delighted to share some of the highlights with you. In distinct, I gleaned two points from their responses—one which is definitely substantial and inspiring one more that’s quirky and pleasurable. 

1st, as you will see under, these global pupils stated they felt welcomed by our community. Way to go, Content Valley. Nothing at all could make me prouder of my hometown.

2nd, freshly-arrived worldwide pupils were clueless about the identity of our most popular citizen.  When requested “Who is James Franklin?” none of the students I interviewed gave a correct response. Which is right, they have been -for-15.

But I’m not nervous about these pupils becoming faithful lovers of Franklin and his Nittany Lion gridders they’ll soon get things figured out. I’m also not nervous about James. I’m assured that his fame will distribute across the world when the Nittany Lions whip Ohio State on October 30.  (Sorry, James. “Wisconsin, Wisconsin, Wisconsin.”)


It was not just the deficiency of accurate responses that struck me when I questioned these internationals to identify James Franklin. It was also the nature of their unsuccessful tries:

  • A master’s student in legislation from China mentioned, “He’s the male on the income.” (Exactly 7 college students gave erroneous answers that pointed towards Ben Franklin. So maybe Puff Daddy was correct when he rapped, “It’s all about the Benjamins.”)
  • An engineering grad pupil from the Center East with any luck , questioned, “He’s not the to start with President, is he?” And an Indian grad student, also affected by America’s best kite-flier, explained, “He’s a single of the founding fathers of the U.S.”
  • A law college student from Central Asia available his finest shot by stating, “I know an actor named James Franco…”
  • And a new freshman from South Korea sought help by inquiring, “Is it a he or a she? Did this particular person graduate from right here?” 

By distinction, 9 out of 15 college students supplied correct answers to my other personality question: “Who is Eric Barron?” Why this rather high degree of accomplishment? I believe the college students were extremely enthusiastic to study emails from the college president, specially all those that talked over COVID-19 insurance policies. 

On the other hand, not absolutely everyone experienced a clue about Penn State’s president. A person Center Easterner, right after obtaining my enter on James Franklin, hoped that info would direct him to the accurate solution for Barron. Requested to discover Eric Barron, he reported, “Is that a player on the workforce?”


And now on to a extra vital subject of my interviews. When questioned what they favored most about Condition School, numerous intercontinental students outlined the warm vibe they felt in our local community.  

“People listed here are extremely helpful,” said Saleh Al-Ghamdi, a new master’s student in architectural engineering. “I assume that is for the reason that they’re more educated. I believe that displays on their mindset and conduct. I haven’t experienced any negative ordeals, and I’m guaranteed I will not have any in the upcoming.”

Jacob Ashish, a new Ph.D. college student in industrial engineering, recognized Satisfied Valley’s warmth straight away immediately after arriving below. “As soon as I landed,” reported the person from Delhi, India, “I was randomly going for walks about and I could see people today who didn’t know each other, greeting and declaring, ‘Hi’ and ‘Good morning.’  It felt actually wonderful it felt extremely warm.” 

Chin-Hsuan Peng, a Ph.D. scholar in atmospheric science from Taiwan, was struck by the dissimilarities amongst Point out College or university and his dwelling city.  

“There’s so lots of skyscrapers in my hometown,” he said in describing Taoyuan, a metropolis of 2.25 million folks. “Here, there’s so substantially nature and so lots of mountains. The daily life rate there is so quickly, but in this article I located that it is cozy and comfy.”  (I didn’t have the coronary heart to explain to Chin-Hsuan that Point out College or university looks headed toward a skyscraper strategy fairly than keeping on to its cozy and snug visual appeal.)   

The most inspiring summary of Point out Higher education was furnished by Simone Luchini, a indigenous of Italy who gained his bachelor’s diploma in London. Questioned to describe the most noteworthy feature of our region, the new Ph.D. university student in cognitive psychology stated, “The people today.”  And he extra, “The help I have gained, equally from the college and from the exterior local community, has been amazing. Delighted Valley is undoubtedly the scenario mainly because when I go to the store–people are smiling, they are form. I have to say all people from an Uber driver to my professor has been great, seriously nice.”


But even when coming to a spot like Delighted Valley, every new global scholar will face some fears of the unfamiliar. For example, COVID-19. 

When I spoke to a pair of feminine freshmen from South Korea, both of those outlined COVID-linked considerations that they needed to prevail over ahead of leaving dwelling. “The major change,” Chaewon Kang explained, “is that in Seoul absolutely everyone wears a mask, but listed here not everyone is donning their mask. I was definitely frightened to arrive listed here.” 

Her close friend, Julie Kim, famous that the individuals in Condition Faculty “are really pleasant and type,” but with regard to COVID, “I was seriously fearful, way too.”

Julie Kim (remaining) and Chaewon Kang swiftly pointed out that several of their fellow students are not wearing masks. Photo by Bill Horlacher

An additional style of concern was felt by new students who hail from Asia. Would they experience vitriol and violence from Us residents who required anyone to blame for the COVID pandemic?

I spoke with T.G. Enkhtor, a new LLM pupil in Penn Condition Regulation, and he mentioned watching protection of dislike crimes on CNN and Fox News whilst continue to in his homeland of Mongolia. Explained Enkhtor, “I observed a great deal of films where Asian- Us citizens were being getting attacked just for the reason that they have been Asian for the duration of the original phase of COVID. Mainly because of my skin shade, I was kind of scared that things would be the exact for me.”  

But though he was still weighing his possibilities for examine in The usa, the young Mongolian attorney obtained encouraging enter from Stephen Barnes, an assistant dean of Penn State Legislation who travels the environment in search of capable graduate students. 

“Steve Barnes reassured me that Condition School is the area for me to be,” spelled out Enkhtor. “People right here are really welcoming and they’re polite. It’s not like New York or other huge towns. Everything is pretty interesting.” 

T.G. Enkhtor, a Penn Point out Regulation university student from Mongolia, feared anti-Asian hatred but has expert heat in Condition Higher education. Photo by Monthly bill Horlacher.


Despite the fact that I just can’t discuss for just about every personal, I’m confident that most new global learners felt superior about their first days at Penn Condition. Not only do the welcoming folks of Point out School have earned some credit score for that, but Penn Condition leaders who delivered an productive orientation method for global pupils ought to be recommended.

Richard Spicer, Penn State’s worldwide pupil engagement coordinator, spearheaded the Global Pupil Orientation (ISO) procedure. And his orientation leaders—Penn Condition pupils, generally from other nations—joined him in heading the additional mile to enable the beginner internationals. In all, 750 intercontinental graduate college students participated in pre-semester orientation at the College Park campus along with 570 global undergraduates.  

“It’s been incredibly demanding,” claimed Spicer. “As I was describing it to some of my colleagues, it was like we were performing calculus, which I’m pretty lousy at.”

Not amazingly, the primary bugaboo of our age—COVID-19—was the factor that elevated the normal complexity of ISO into intellect-numbing calculus. Due to the fact of COVID, U.S. embassies struggled to course of action visa purposes in a well timed manner. In accordance to Spicer, “The most difficult piece has been realizing if the learners had been heading to be capable to make it below or not with their visas.”

Shown listed here in a 2019 photograph, Richard Spicer (middle) credits orientation leaders for the good results of ISO. Picture by Invoice Horlacher.

Of course, numerous other variables turned ISO into a guessing activity of types. “We were accomplishing digital orientation all summer season lengthy for international students,” Spicer noted, “and it was heading extremely effectively.  But then, as the summer time was going on, we recognized we desired to approach an in-individual orientation for students when they arrived so they could truly feel welcomed and know far more about what they ended up performing.”

All of that would have been hard sufficient, but add the reality that college officers were battling to ascertain their COVID insurance policies for the fall semester. “It was a challenge to strategy orientation considering the fact that we weren’t positive what was going to be possible,” Spicer claimed.  

So what was the secret sauce powering ISO’s success? “It was our orientation leaders,” Spicer stated. “We saw them move up. I bought e-mails from them at all hrs and times of day simply because they have been supporting students in diverse time zones. And they observed techniques to give their learners excursions that weren’t prepared. We’ve had many of them operating all summer season and now (throughout ISO), quite intensely. I’m incredibly very pleased of the endeavours they’ve put in.”