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International students on the rise at Carlisle
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Pictured (from left) are Carlisle students Landon Hill, Bonnie Xue, Kevin Fu, Alexis Adams and Malcolm NDiaye. Xue, Fu and NDiaye are international students, and Hill and Adams enjoy learning about their cultures. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

By BY PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

The number of foreign students at Carlisle School’s Martinsville campus has more than doubled in the last three years.

“The mission here (at Carlisle) is global thinking,” said Jenna Martin, the school’s international student affairs coordinator.

The 38 international students out of a total student population of 364 on Carlisle’s Martinsville campus are from Uganda, Sweden, China, Finland, Korea, Japan, India, Germany and Australia, school officials said.

Lee Probst, Carlisle’s director of admissions, said the school had 16 international students three years ago.

Martin attributed the increase to more applicants because of the program’s success, as well recruiting from larger markets.

Several local and international students at Carlisle recently said both U.S. and international students benefit from the international students’ presence on campus.

Bonnie Xue, a junior from Shanghai, China, and Kevin Fu, a sophomore from Shandong Province, China, said that at their schools in China, rather than students changing classes and going from teacher to teacher, students stayed in their classes and teachers came to them. They said classes were large, about 50 students or more. Bonnie said teachers in China had little time to answer students’ questions. Both said classes are smaller at Carlisle, and students can ask teachers questions.

Bonnie said she thought some classes were harder in China, especially math, and that it was stressful trying to keep up. Kevin said he finds math and science classes easier at Carlisle than in China.

Bonnie said the school day in China began at 7 a.m. and extended through the afternoon or even nighttime, depending on how long it took a student to pass that day’s tests. She said her school in China was held Mondays through Fridays, and tutoring classes were held on Saturdays. Tutoring classes were necessary to keep up, she said.

Kevin talked about there not being as many special events, such as homecoming and after-school activities, at his school in China.

Malcolm N’diaye of Gävle, Sweden, a senior, said there are a lot of extracurricular activities at Carlisle, unlike his school back home. For instance, his school in Sweden did not have a basketball team, so he played club sports. During the 2012-13 season, Malcolm, a shooting guard on Carlisle’s boys basketball team, made the Virginia Independent Conference (VIC) all-conference first team, according to the school’s website and other online information.

Malcolm said teachers at Carlisle help students more than at his school in Sweden. “They want to make sure you know (the academic material),” he said.

Though Bonnie, Kevin and Malcolm lived in much larger cities in their home countries, they said they didn’t find it hard to adjust.

Malcolm said he likes having fewer distractions, which gives him more time to focus on school.

Bonnie, Kevin, Malcolm and fellow Carlisle students Alexis Adams of Axton and Landon Hill of Martinsville said they feel having both American and international students at Carlisle benefits all students by learning about one another’s cultures, including foods, languages, music and other aspects of pop culture, laws and traditions.

“Getting to know their stories is interesting to me,” Alexis said.

Despite stereotypes, Alexis said she has learned that “even though their cultures are different, they are a lot like us.”

Martin said having international students on campus helps local students “see about life outside Martinsville.”

And she said international students flourish, too. For instance, Bonnie is “a wonderful artist,” with interests in acting, set design and clothing design. “She’s found her niche,” Martin said.

The international students live in dormitories or with host families.


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