Students that are involved in the Intensive English Program at TCU. (Photo credit: Home page of IEP's website)

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TCU offers many programs to help international students adjust to culture in the U.S.

TCU now has students from 78 countries as of Fall 2016. For the International Student Services, this means adding programs to help those students adapt to life at TCU.

TCU’s International Programs

According to Project Atlas, there are roughly 1 million international students in the U.S. as of 2016. There were only 560,000 students in 2006.

Business and engineering are the most popular fields of choice, as they make up 40 percent of what international students are studying.

TCU has more than 600 international students from 78 countries. International advisor James English said TCU has plenty of programs to help these students adjust to the U.S.

English said that he is primarily an immigration advisor, and he helps international students with their visas and immigration documents.

In addition to helping students with their documents, the TCU International Student Services works on something they call the Quality Enhancement Plan.

“The university chooses discovering global citizenship with the idea of increasing the university’s engagement with the world and with developing nations,” English said. This is because not every student is able to travel to other countries.

“We recognize that not every TCU student can travel extensively, especially internationally, and it’s a way to bring the world to TCU,” he said.

Orientation

International students are required to attend two orientations. One being Orientation, the one every first-year student goes to, and the other being designed by the International Student Services.

English said that their orientation covers immigration, culture shock and the U.S. academic system. For a lot of the international students, classes back home consisted of sitting through lectures and then taking one exam at the end of the year.

“In many ways, our international students are not having trouble so much with the U.S. culture because it’s a very globalized world,” English said. “We noticed they are having trouble adapting to the U.S. academic system because it is much different from their home country.”

He added that in their orientations, they have shifted more focus to the academic system so they can adapt to the system here.

Football 101

“It’s hard to believe now, but a few years ago we discovered that international students were not going to TCU football games,” English said. “What we discovered was that they just didn’t understand the game and the role it played.”

The International Student Services decided to adopt a program called “Football 101” to solve this issue. The program allowed these students to go to the indoor stadium and try the sport out for themselves.

English said that students got to try on helmets, football pads, and they explained the rules of the game to them and allow them to run plays.

“Since we started the program, nearly all the international students go to the games because they understand the game,” he said.

Global X

International Student Services also designed a program called Global X, which partners international students with U.S. students. They pick a global topic and develop a public presentation together.

“It’s a globally themed, code learning program that partners U.S. students and international students and not in a mentor-protege way but instead they are on a team together,” English said.

The program is a competition, and the winning team gets to go on an international trip together.

From Rwanda to TCU

According to the TCU Office of Institutional Research, our biggest international population comes from Vietnam and China. As of Fall 2016, there are 97 students from Vietnam and 80 students from China.

The TCU Fact Book also states that 38.7 percent of international students come from eastern Asia while 17.1 percent come from Central America or the Caribbean.

Over the past few years, TCU has had a few students come here from Rwanda. One of their brightest students is Patrick Rutikanga.

Patrick (shown on the left) is one of the students from Rwanda to go to TCU. (Photo Credit Rutikanga)
Patrick (shown on the left) is one of the TCU students from Rwanda. (Photo Credit Rutikanga)

Rutikanga is the fifth recipient of the Carl & Teresa Wilkens Award and is in his last semester of the Intensive English program.

The scholarship is offered annually to one student from Rwanda to study in the Intensive English Program at TCU.

For many students at TCU, the mission statement is something they try to follow to the best of their ability. For Rutikanga, the mission statement was what brought him here. He said that it was life changing to receive this scholarship and to get into TCU.

“I saw the e-mail. That I was accepted. You know to come here to TCU,” he said.  “I mean I couldn’t believe that I was like is it really true that I’m coming to TCU. This is when you read like e-mail like you know some couple of time to really feel like you know it’s true. But it was really it was life changing. I thought it was a dream that I was leaving because I was like feeling hey this is what I wanted to pursue I just wanted to go somewhere I can experience.”

Students learn grammar, reading, writing and much more through the Intensive English Program. Rutikanga said that this program has helped him develop skills that he could take back home.

“I saw that the Intensive English Program was not only help us to get to know the English perspective, but it also gave us a sense of knowing people from different countries,” he said.

Kurk Gayle, Intensive English Program director, said that the program has helped a lot of students with their communication skills.

“World class musicians, a three-time Olympian, a record-holding TCU athlete, a university president and provost, physicians and nurses, principals of a national telecom firm, entrepreneurs and business owners, these diverse TCU alumni in the global community is why the Intensive English program is an important part of TCU,” he said.

While Rutikanga is working toward obtaining his social work major, he wants to come back for grad school and pursue a Master’s degree in Child Developmental Trauma.

“I have a strong attachment with working with children”, he said. “My passion is to help orphans and refugees and other children who are vulnerable”

Rutikanga said that Rwanda is still behind in implementing programs that help children and he wants to implement the programs the U.S. has.

Once he completes his Master’s at TCU, Rutikanga wants to go back home and build institutions and community centers like in the U.S.

“I really want to help develop children’s rights and be able to advocate for children all over Africa that have problems and be able to help them out,” Rutikanga said.