Marquette welcomes international students

Scott Viau

The International Programs Office will bring a group of students from Central America to NMU this week. The program is sponsored by a grant given by the U.S. State Department Bureau of Cultural Affairs.

The stop in Marquette is one of three planned. The students have already been to Washington, D.C., and after flying in and visiting NMU they will then move on to New York. The entire trip will last three weeks, and during their stay they will learn about how to become a leader in their own communities back home.

The international students from Central America toured the Eben ice caves last year in Alger County. This year they plan on volunteering and visiting local business while also learning leadership skills. // Courtesy of Miriam Moeller

Coordinator of International Students and Scholars Rehema Clarken said there are three things the students will learn by coming to the United States:  “leadership, entrepreneurship and volunteering.”

Due to the ages of the students, which are between 16 and 18, the International Programs Office has been working with Marquette Senior High School. The families of students of an AP Spanish class have volunteered to take students into their home.

“They’re providing breakfast and dinner and a place to sleep for the whole week, as well as often transporting them around,” Clarken said. “It’s quite generous what the families provide. Each student will have their own family.”

The students chosen are known as the best and the brightest and have won scholarships to schools, but don’t have the money to come to the States.

“These kids are coming from low-income situations. This is their only chance to come to the United States,” Clarken said. “They would not be able to afford it otherwise, and most of their English is not good enough.”

The goal for this visit is to encourage the students to think more creatively about what they can do to make their lives better.

“By giving them leadership skills and entrepreneurial skills, it makes them think a little outside the box for what they could do the rest of their lives,” Clarken said. “When they go home, they’d be able to make a really unique business that would help their community.”

Some of the activities planned for the students involve meeting with local business owners and volunteering at St. Vincent de Paul, Habitat for Humanity or the YMCA.

International Programs Specialist Miriam Moeller said that volunteering and being a part of the community is an important aspect of being a business owner.

“If you want to run a successful business you should do some civic service; you should give back to the community who buys from your store,” Moeller said.

One of the businesses they will visit is 4 Safety, which is a company that exports to places across the world. Moeller said that bringing the students here will give them an opportunity to see what it takes to start up a business.

“They can see that it doesn’t take a whole lot,” Moeller said. “If you have the right investment and a little bit of knowledge of business, you can pretty much do anything you want.”

In addition to getting out into the community, it’s also planned to have the students use Facebook as part of a teaching technology activity.

“The goal is that each one of them has a Facebook account, and there’s also an account that we set up for the whole group. It’s really neat,” Moeller said.

Moeller added that she is grateful to the community and NMU for welcoming the students and thinks that the program bringing the students is a great one.

“The kids talk to us after the presentations and say ‘Oh, my God. I have this idea. Maybe we can do this in my community.’ Their communities look so different than ours,” Moeller said. “We can only imagine what they can take back and create and make their communities better.”