International students say college is ‘welcoming’


Zack Buster

Fifth-year nursing student Frank Fitzgeralde Libom, who grew up speaking French, says he enjoys studying here, despite unique challenges.

Ava Herring, Diversity Editor

International students said in October the campus atmosphere is friendly and welcoming.
Being an international college student in the U.S. poses challenges like learning a new language at an academic level, making friends and navigating cultural norms.
“I’m not an English speaker,” biology student Anne-Keren Kanté, who grew up on the Ivory Coast, said. “I’m a French speaker, so sometimes I can have, maybe, difficulties to understand.”
Kanté added: “But the teachers were very accommodating and my women’s health class professor knew I wasn’t a native English speaker, so she would give me extra time completing quizzes and helping me understand.”
There are 432 international students enrolled at AACC from 76 countries.
Fifth-year nursing student Frank Fitzgeralde Libom grew up in the Northwest of France. He said he felt satisfied with his educational experience here, but being an international student hasn’t always been easy.
“I feel like most people don’t know what international students are,” he said. “Most people don’t know we exist, because they are that rare. As an international student, you have to be full-time, in terms of credit, and you have to work and do internships to earn a living, so most international students don’t have a lot of time. It’s pretty difficult.”
Kanté said she came to AACC in 2021 to learn how to speak and write English before transferring to a university.
She explained the difficulty of communication barriers and said the campus is accommodating her.
German-born nursing student Maze Boland, 26, said she felt lost at first.
“I remember I had a lot of classes online,” Boland said. “I remember thinking I’m just going to have to explain everything to myself and can I ask for extra explanations? Are they going to be respectful?”
Despite these challenges, the students said the college has been very accommodating of their language barriers and their professors go to great lengths to ensure their success.
“The atmosphere was great,” Libom said. “It was not difficult to make friends, even if I didn’t want friends. People would come up to me and ask to be friends anyway. Everyone is so nice, and I learned so much. People still reach out to me from campus. It’s awesome.”
Boland agreed.
“AACC has a really nice atmosphere, academically and personally,” Boland said. “Everyone has been welcoming. I’ve felt pretty good being here. AACC is very capable of catering [to] every student’s needs in terms of classes and class times. It’s a very good spectrum.”
Despite the accommodations, the international students said the campus still has work to do to ensure the comfort and success of students.
Kanté and Libom said they would like to see a support group on campus for international students, a refuge where they could share their experiences with those who have had similar ones. That might help them make more friends at their new school and country, they said.
“We could share our experiences and, you know, just talk about it,” Kanté said. “And have other people around you that understand you and maybe have experienced it, too.”
Boland said it would also be beneficial for the school.