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PCC goes international

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From Nov. 17-21, people won’t have to spend lots of money or fly lots of hours to experience international culture. Portland Community College is bringing it to your doorstep.

The sixth annual International Education Week will honor PCC’s international students, faculty and staff. The kick-off will be on Monday, Nov. 17, with the performance of Show Brazil playing a mix of bossa nova, Brazilian jazz, Carnaval and Brazilian traditional music from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in the auditorium (Room 104), Moriarty Arts and Humanities Building, Cascade Campus. Plus, throughout the week, students will put on International Showcases, a highlight of the week.

"This week-long event intends to raise awareness about study-abroad programs to American students as well as to expose prospective international students to the education and culture of the United States," said Marcio Lemos, International Education program specialist and a native of Brazil.

Some students you might meet include:

Andrey Burkovskiy

Andrey Burkovskiy

Andrey Burkovskiy, Kyrgyz Republic

In his second year at PCC, Burkovskiy probably hails from the smallest country among PCC’s cadre of international students. The republic, with slightly more than 5 million people, is a country in Central Asia. Landlocked and mountainous, it is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, Tajikistan to the southwest and China to the east.

The multimedia program student is helping Lemos organize the Korean/Vietnamese open house and assisting in the International Showcase at the Cascade Campus. In the Kyrgyz Republic, he was a translator for the U.S. Air Force when he decided to use his English skills and get an education in America.

"It was a very good job and I made good money," Burkovskiy said. "I thought what I wanted to do with my life if I quit my job. I had relatives that live here so I chose PCC. For me it was no big deal. I was familiar with American culture and I’ve traveled to Washington, D.C., in 1995. There was no culture shock."

Asked why International Education Week is important for PCC to be apart of, Burkovskiy didn’t hesitate to answer.

"It’s great to familiarize with different cultures," he said. "It’s important to learn something new and we have so many international students here from all over the world. It’s like traveling to another country. America is a multicultural country and it’s very important to sustain that."

Fraya SaQuina

Roxana Geacar

Fraya SaQuina, Republic of Indonesia

A second-year business and marketing major from the Rock Creek Campus, SaQuina hails from this country in Southeast Asia. Comprising 17,508 islands, it is the world’s largest archipelagic state with a population of 222 million people. She is in charge of assisting in the planning of the International Student Showcase at the Rock Creek Campus and runs a club for international students.

Like many students from warm climates, going to school in Portland means a bigger adjustment than just culture and educational system.

"Biggest change has been the weather," SaQuina said. "I am from a very hot country. It was hard for me the first year to face this cold weather all year. The food is different, too. And it’s hard to speak in English. I have to translate in my mind before speaking."

SaQuina learned about PCC’s opportunities through her cousin, who told her to check out the college’s Web site. From exploring the site she said that PCC seemed very welcoming to international students and that International Education Week proves it.

"A lot of people don’t really know about some countries," she said. "This educates them and helps share their experiences without having to go to the countries and how it’s different from American culture."

Roxana Geacar

Roxana Geacar, Romania

Geacar is in her first year at PCC’s Sylvania Campus, arrived in August, and helps with organizing the Sylvania Campus events. She had come to visit friends in Vancouver, Wash., and already possesses a bachelor’s degree in French and English. Her country of a little more than 22 million people is located in Southeast Central Europe, bordering the Black Sea.

Geacar wanted to study at a school that her company in Romania would sponsor her to attend and PCC became the right choice. Her goal is to study business and use those skills to get more business-related experience before moving back home. Her biggest adjustment has been the educational system.

"In America you can express yourself more during the process of learning," Geacar said. "I like it. You have more authority in Romania; it’s not dynamic, no interaction with the teacher."

She also said that culture shock might be a thing of the past for international students like her. There are differences in culture between her country and the U.S. but that many people back home know a lot about the American way of life. So when they do come, they hit the ground running.

"I come from an emerging country and we tend to be Americanized so we know all about it," she said. "Americans are a lot more open to things and tolerant, and we tend to be a lot more judgmental. Everybody can do something here. If you have good skills you can find something for yourself."

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »

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