It was a bitter-sweet night in the Crimson & Gold Ballroom of the Overman Student Center as many international students prepared to end their time at Pittsburg State University.
The international graduation dinner was held Thursday, Dec. 29 at 6 p.m. The ceremony was held to celebrate and honor the accomplishments of students from more than 40 countries around the world that would be graduating or completing their exchange at the end of this semester.
Over the course of the evening, several speakers, including PSU president Steve Scott, were able to wish the students well.
“We love having you here,” Scott said. “And we’re glad you chose PSU.”
Several students also had the opportunity to give speeches including students graduating from the Intensive English program, the undergraduate program, and from the graduate program who have made a significant difference.
Timo Markward, an international student from Germany, is graduating with a bachelors in business management this December. Markward was able to address his fellow students and spoke of his experience at Pitt State and his love for America. He first came to PSU two years ago, initially expecting to go to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and was disappointed when he found himself in Kansas when he first arrived. However, he soon grew to love Kansas and Pitt State.
“… What I discovered were heartwarming, embracing people with the famous Midwest hospitality,” Markward said, “Midwest is the Mid-best!”
Markward said that even though it was challenging coming to the U.S. as an international student, he now wants to stay in America by “all means necessary,” after his graduation and eventually become an American citizen. He felt fully embraced in America and even met his girlfriend at PSU.
The International Office also presented certificates of completion to those who completed the International Knowledge Experience (IKE) program, which promotes international awareness and encourages students to have international experiences. All other international students who completed undergraduate, graduate, the IEP, or exchange programs were also presented certificates to honor them. Additionally, the international office recognized supporters of the program such as PittPals, friendship families, drivers, international advocates, and some leaders of student organizations.
Many international students have formed strong bonds with each other from all across the world. Pedro Lenz Casa, a biology major from Brazil, has spent one semester on exchange at Pitt State. He said that one of the best things at Pitt State is the international program and the students.
“The international students,” Lenz Casa said. “ They’re all really warm and nice to talk to.”
Lenz Casa chose to exchange in order to find a different pace in life.
“I was almost at an overwhelming pace at my college year, and I needed a moment to relax a bit and do something else, something fun, something different,” Lenza Casa said. “I felt like going out a bit, maybe.”
He encouraged exchange students to try and sign up for PittPals.
Leonel Parissenti Do Nascimento, an exchange from Brazil studying construction, said that although with the language barrier and different studying methods, he has enjoyed his experience here. He also made note of how the people at Pitt State impacted his experience.
“The people here, super friendly, it’s really good to be here,” Nascimento said, “… The Brazil house, when people get together, is really nice.”
The International Exchange program can prove a very beneficial experience for many who choose to try it. Zhao Qingwen, a graduate student from China studying English interpretation, said she believes her experiences in America will benefit her greatly.
“I want to work in an international environment, and I think the cross-cultural experience is important,” Zhao said. “I think when some culture doesn’t exist in your local country, you wouldn’t know this. Only if you come across this culture contrast you would know something new.”
Brenda Hawkins, enrollment management assistant for international programs and services, made note of this, saying “Know that you’re leaving us with so much more than we could ever give you.”
Markward also mentioned the importance of international students in his speech saying, “What we are doing here is building bridges. We are influencing, enriching, and transforming others on campus along with ourselves.”