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Office of Global Education Assists MC International Students

More than one million international students enrolled at USA colleges face extraordinary challenges amid the COVID-19 health crisis.

Mississippi College leaders and staff at the Office of Global Education are working long hours to meet the needs of the Christian university’s 140 students from around the globe.

“I really feel for our international students,” says Mei-Chi Piletz, director of the Office of Global Education.

Like all students going through the pandemic, anxiety levels and fears are high. It’s hard to predict when the crisis will subside in countries worldwide.

The work never goes away as Piletz proceeds. She’s in daily touch with MC students from around the globe. She contacts prospective students thousands of miles away in countries like Germany.

Piletz and Office of Global Education staffer Wen Weng Jones are thankful for the leadership of President Blake Thompson as March turns to April.

“The Office of Global Education appreciates Dr. Blake Thompson’s exhibition of servant leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Piletz said. “MC’s international community expresses its sincere appreciation for the amazing support coming from all fronts at Mississippi College.”

Major events cancelled at MC included the March 27 International Festival. The event showcases the talents and attire of international students at the university each year. Following the show, they fellowship with festival audience members. For more than a decade, the event features delicious foods from their native lands. The program was designed to raise funds for international student scholarships.

Guanyang “Gary” Li, a computer science major from China, applauds MC staffers for going the extra mile. Like others enrolled this Spring, international students are adjusting to online classes from home.

“Both Mrs. Weng and Mrs. Piletz have checked to see if things are alright with me. Also, President Thompson has been sending us updates via email since day one,” the MC junior says. “Most importantly, none of the international students have been abandoned nor forgotten by MC and the Office of Global Education.”

He saluted the MC faculty for working with them as studies switched to online formats.

International students are not just worried about academics, and any language barriers. Due to the slump in the USA economy, jobs are hard to find for international students. Many hoped to stay in the United States after their graduation. Students applied for the optional practical training program or OPT so they can temporarily stay in the United States for one to three years after graduation. One in ten American workers lost their jobs the past three weeks.

Also making things uncertain for international students is that many USA embassies around the globe are closed.

That halts steps in the visa process for international students seeking to attend colleges across the nation next Fall.

Qimeng Zhou, an MC graduate student in public relations, lauds the university’s staff for doing their best during the crisis. Switching to Zoom and taking online classes wasn’t easy for the native of China. “Luckily my teachers and classmates have been very helpful.”

Student tutors at the online MC Writing Center are helpful as well, she said. “My tutors are always patient, and they try their best to help me modifying my papers.”

Church services are on the internet and that helps her, too. The more difficult the circumstances, says the native of China, “the stronger our faith is.”

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