Program Enhances U.S. Experience for International Students
PLATTSBURGH, NY__It's a small world after all. Here in Plattsburgh, community members have a wonderful opportunity to learn more about different cultures through a unique program at the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh.
Partners in Cross-Cultural Learning (PICL) is a program that made its debut at SUNY Plattsburgh last January. International students are matched with volunteers from the community and are provided an authentic experience of life in the United States. The program also provides local residents a glimpse into different cultures through interaction with the students.
"These are the two basic goals of this program," said Michelle St. Onge, who came to SUNY Plattsburgh as the PICL coordinator in March. "It creates a win-win situation for everyone involved."
International students come to Plattsburgh not just for a classroom education; many of them want to improve their English skills and learn about American customs and culture. Students are matched with community residents and meet about once a month for informal activities such as family dinners. International students can experience what family life is like in the United States. PICL also coordinates various social activities throughout the semester such as pot-luck dinners, bowling outings and sledding parties.
"It's nice to be able to give families exposure to another culture through interacting with an international student. These connections can develop into lifelong friendships," said St. Onge. "This is a purely social relationship. Community residents aren't responsible for hosting the students. All of these needs are taken care of by the International Student Services Office on campus. This program provides the opportunity for students to become more involved on and off campus and helps with their transition to Plattsburgh and the surrounding community."
Ten students participated in the first semester of the program, and SUNY Plattsburgh is expecting more than 100 new international students on campus this fall. The total number of international students enrolled at the College is about 320 individuals from more than 50 countries.
St. Onge is currently recruiting community volunteers for the fall semester and will host two upcoming orientation sessions for interested community members. The first will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 16 at 5:30 p.m. at the Plattsburgh Public Library. The second session will be held on Sunday, Aug. 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the Child Care Coordinating Council of the North Country, One Work Source Building, 194 U.S. Oval.
"These brief orientation sessions will provide an opportunity to learn more about international friendships and the PICL Program," said St. Onge. "Attendees interested in participating will be able to complete an application at the orientation session, and the partner matching process will occur in September."
Members of the community who are interested in participating in the program are encouraged to attend one of these sessions or may contact St. Onge via email at [email protected] . For more information about PICL, visit the Web site at http://www.plattsburgh.edu/admissions/international/picl.php
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