Students Experience The World Without Leaving Northeast Ohio
“Think outside the box,” “push the envelope,” and “get out of your comfort zone,” are just a few of the life-expanding experiences that Kent State encourages students to pursue during their enrollment. One special program, which the university offers to truly challenge students to see their world differently, is the International Village Experience (IVE). The International Village Experience is one of the university’s several residential living-learning programs. It is unique in that it offers an opportunity for local students to live, study and grow with others from around the world. By rooming and living together, students in IVE – whether domestic or international – experience a multitude of cultures on a daily basis. IVE not only gives American students a chance to see many different multicultural ways of living, but it’s also a unique transitional opportunity for international students to be welcomed into an American lifestyle. Domestic students especially find the opportunity to expand their world rewarding.
Austin Bashore, a bilingual KSU freshman from Northeast Ohio, one day hopes to teach English as a second language in South Korea. Because of his teaching aspirations, Austin saw the International Village Experience as the perfect opportunity for him to hone his language skills and to potentially make the lifelong contacts he would need to successfully pursue his career following graduation. Although he feels that many domestic students are reluctant to room with an international student, Austin was excited and eagerly anticipated his move-in day at Clark Hall, the home of the International Village Experience. Much to his surprise, though, Austin was originally placed with an American roommate, but working with the residence staff at Clark Hall he was able to quickly switch dorm rooms to room with a student from South Korea. Austin truly appreciates the benefits of his international experience and has truly enjoyed the time he has spent with his Korean roommate and how it has changed his worldview in numerous ways.
When Austin first arrived at Kent State, he could speak both English and Korean fluently. In fact, he spoke Korean so well that he quickly became President of the KSU Korean Culture Club. But now, he is also able to speak Chinese through the help of the friends he has met through IVE as well as the classes in which he has been enrolled. In turn, he was delighted to help his new friends with their English speaking skills. To solidify his chosen career path, Austin thoughtfully uses his IVE experience as an opportunity to improve his Korean, learn Chinese, and assist Chinese students to improve their English.
When asked if there were any challenges he faced when living with an international student Austin replied, “I don’t know if I would say there have been any challenges necessarily. The language barrier between some of the students in the dorm is really the only issue.”
In recommending the IVE program to other domestic students, Austin cautioned just how important is it to have an open mind. “If your roommate hasn’t been in America long and they aren’t familiar with our culture, you will have to get used to some different social norms. And they may find some of our American habits difficult to understand as well,” Austin stresses. “But if one is able to remain open-minded and is up for new experiences, then the IVE program can be extremely exciting and rewarding.”
Above Photo: Austin Bashore (left) and his IVE friend, Owen Law, who is from Hong Kong.