Did you know that the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement has a “warm and fuzzy” side? Well, for those of you who think of the U.S. government and immediately picture a Customs and Border Protection officer examining your passport; or dogs sniffing your luggage; or a nameless, faceless person in a U.S.C.I.S. office somewhere with stacks and stacks of paperwork (and your application for change of status is at the bottom); then you need to take a look at this website:
It’s a fabulous resource, put together by the U.S. State Department (yes, the same folks who work in U.S. Embassies and Consulates), Homeland Security, and other governmental bodies to help students and potential students who would like to come to the U.S. to study, or who are already here and may have questions or problems. Recently, the U.S. State Department and Homeland Security have been focusing on “outreach.” In plain speech, that means that they are trying to make a better impression, to encourage cooperation and, ultimately, good relationships.
Now, that doesn’t mean that you will get a hug and kiss from the passport officer the next time you enter the U.S.! But I encourage you to explore the website, and to visit the International Student Services office at Parkland College if you have any questions or worries. After all, that is our primary purpose: education. Through our emails, this blog, and all other communication with our students, we fulfill a small part of the mission of the college: to engage the [international] community in learning.
You can get a free hug here: http://flic.kr/p/ATmTn
You also can get “engaged” with our college by becoming involved in student clubs and organizations, such as:
English Conversation Club (ECC)
International Students’ Association (ISA)
Muslim Students’ Association (MSA)
…and others (ask for a list in Student Life or go to their website)
Please take advantage of all the resources available to you to make your international experience even more valuable. Being involved decreases feelings of isolation and symptoms of culture shock, and definitely increases smiles. Go ahead, jump in!!