Emory University’s reputation has made it the college of choice for many students in the United States and worldwide. Nowhere is that more evident than on the school’s Oxford College campus where students from around the world come to continue their academic careers and bring an international flavor to Newton County.
According to Cathy Wooten, Communications Manager at the college, there are currently 34 nations represented among the college’s 985 students.
Dr. Joseph Moon, dean of Campus Life at the college, said international students choose Oxford for a variety of reasons but the campus’ size and sense of intimacy are important.
“That’s what the kid from Columbia, South America and the kid from Columbia, South Carolina, it’s what they have in common. They’re away from home. Their homes are different. They’re learning things they’ve never learned before in the classroom, they’re bumping elbows with people who eat different food, who have different religion, who have different attitudes about politics. That learning experience is as rich as the classroom experience. The faculty may not agree with me, but I think it is. A lot of schools have diversity, but ours is so interactive.”Dr. Joseph Moon, Dean of Campus Life
“There are international students all over the country in different kinds of institutions, but I think one reason they pick Oxford is they want Emory, they want an internationally known institution, but they also see this as a small campus where they might be supported and known.
“They all live on campus. They all are interacting with each other all the time. So, that would be a reason they would choose to come to here, because of our size and the intimacy and the faculty to student ratio and things like that.”
Daphne Orr, Director of International Student Programs at Oxford said the international students bring much to campus life.
“They bring their experiences, their perspectives, a different way of seeing the world and thinking about the world,” she said, “They come to this campus sometimes 17, 18, 19-years-old, so they have this energy and optimism and excitement. They are constantly integrating with one another in classes, in the dining hall, at activities across the campus and sharing those ideas and learning from others.
“I talk with so many students, international for the most part, and they get so excited about their interactions with the domestic students, but also so excited about their interactions other people from all over the world. Talking with somebody who might be Chinese but who grew up in Ghana. The campus is so enriched by their presence.”
Moon added, “This is a great age, when you are 18 or 19-years-old. We are diverse in every way except age. They are all 18, 19 and 20. And they are all going through the same kinds of things in terms of growing up and figuring out who they are and what they want to be and how they relate to the world.
“That’s what the kid from Columbia, South America and the kid from Columbia, South Carolina, it’s what they have in common. They’re away from home. Their homes are different. They’re learning things they’ve never learned before in the classroom, they’re bumping elbows with people who eat different food, who have different religion, who have different attitudes about politics. That learning experience is as rich as the classroom experience. The faculty may not agree with me, but I think it is. A lot of schools have diversity, but ours is so interactive.”
A proficiency in English is required of international students who want to study at Emory.
“If you come from India and you walk into a philosophy class and it is taught in English and it is high level and you’ve got to be ready to go,” Moon said.
“We want students to succeed here, so we won’t select students, who as brilliant as they might be or high scores as they might have in math, or whatever, if they can’t come in a classroom in a political science or philosophy classroom and hit the ground and listen and get it and take notes and speak up, this is not a good place for them.”
Oxford’s students are encouraged to get involved in the extended community away from the campus.
Moon said some of the classes at Oxford College have a community service component for all students.
”Theory, practice, service, learning- some of our classes have that component,” he said,” That means that part of the curriculum is local service.”
Moon said some of the Oxford students are placed in local public schools
“They are placed in elementary schools, middle schools, sometimes in high school. There’s a school coordinator that will meet them and place them in a classroom. They do everything from helping students with math to sitting in the hallway, listening to a student who’s agitated and helping the teacher that way. They do that as part of their school. They have to write journals for us about what happened and they bring that back to the classroom.”
Moon said from a Newton County perspective, the international students are a hidden asset.
“These are kids coming into the classroom who don’t look like a lot of the kids in Newton County, or if they do, have different international experiences. And elementary and middle school kids love college students and to have somebody there from an African country, or from India or from an Asian country, the local kids are so curious about that. They want to touch their hair or hear them talk. There’s a layer of cultural connection that we’re able to participate in.”
The international students also experience and enjoy local culture from The Covington Square to Six Flags to trips to north Georgia.
According to Orr, Oxford college support for international students starts before they arrive on campus.
“For the cohort that’s coming in in August 2018, we’ve already started reaching out to them,” she said,” We have this really fantastic student leadership program called I-mentors. Those are will be second year students that serve as a peer guide to assist the international students that are coming in.”
Orr also said international students arrive on campus about six days before the domestic students.
“We have a very robust international student welcome. We have a session for parents only to answer questions,” she said, “We also do content based sessions- what is a liberal arts education, or immigration regulations or campus safety, wellness- things like that. We also take them to the World of Coca Cola, The Mall of Georgia, and Scoops for ice cream.”