WYOMISSING, Pa. — This fall, Penn State Berks welcomed 110 international students to the campus community. Of that number, 40 are new students. To help these students succeed, the college has implemented a variety of programs and events.
According to Sharon Pitterson-Ogaldez, coordinator of diversity and international programs, the largest area represented by the college’s international students is Asia, including the countries of China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, and Taiwan. This year, the Penn State Berks also has international students from Brazil, Egypt, Germany, Haiti, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Mongolia, Nigeria, Russia, United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam.
For Patrick Nunes, it was his desire to study biological engineering that motivated him to leave Brazil and enroll in Penn State. “In Brazil, there is no room for bio-engineers,” he joked. He applied to Penn State University and was assigned to begin his studies at Berks campus, and he is quite pleased with the way it worked out, commenting, “Berks is a great campus.” Nunes explained that he took some English as a Second Language courses before the fall semester began, so he is ready to hit the ground running.
Meanwhile, Haochen Wang from Shanghai, located on China’s central coast, has not decided if he wants to major in engineering or computer science. Weng grew up in Singapore, where he began his studies in engineering. He stated that while he was accepted to a few colleges, and he chose Penn State because of its excellent reputation in engineering.
It was the love of Penn State football – and Saquon Barkley – that brought Tianyu “Scott” Zhou to the United States from the Beijing, China. He explained that he is a huge Penn State football fan, so he applied to the University and was accepted. Zhou plans to major in finance, but he also loves to sing and act, and hopes to get involved in the college’s theater productions. He is also very active on Chinese social media.
Hridhu Haroon from Kerala, India came to Penn State because he heard the college has an excellent business program – and he is also interested in the college’s theater program. Haroon explains that he did some acting in high school and helped his father, a film producer in India. His goal is to combine his interests in business and theater into a career, and he has his family’s full support. He added that his family wants him to get exposure to other cultures and countries in order to help him to successfully pursue his goals.
International students begin their time on campus with the International Student Orientation program, which covers a wide variety of topics, including the legal issues that students must deal with for immigration and government rules and regulations. International students meet and connect with their international mentors, as well as college faculty and staff members.
Yuyan Yang is originally from China, near Beijing. Her parents accompanied her to the international orientation, as many international parents do to ease the transition for students and themselves. She explains that after conducting a lot of research on Penn State – including spending time on group chats – she applied and was accepted. In fact, she received her first offer of admission from Penn State. Yang plans to major in hospitality management and attend graduate school after graduation.
The Penn State Berks Intercultural Office organizes several events throughout the academic year that allow international students to interact with other international students from the other five Penn State campuses in the Northeast region, as well as local events where international students can meet and interact with domestic students.
The college held a Welcome Barbeque that brought international and domestic students together on Sept. 7. Future activities will include a Unity Day celebration where the entire campus community celebrates diversity on Sept. 27; an international gala on Nov. 18, and a variety of events for international students.
In addition, Penn State Berks has several clubs that celebrate cultural diversity, including the Black Student Union; Chinese Culture Club; INK (International Klub); Latino Unity Club; Muslim Students' Association, and the Punjabi Culture Club.
For more information about Penn State Berks international students or programs, contact Pitterson-Ogaldez, at 610-396-6080 or via email at [email protected].