international2At a professional development meeting for faculty members on Tuesday, Joanne was the leading voice when she and a few of her international classmates, mostly from China, shared their hopes for the year ahead as try to assimilate into the American and Saint Viator culture.

In all, there are more than 85 international students attending Saint Viator this school year, making it the largest group since the school instituted its Rev. Mark R. Francis, CSV, International Program. Launched in 2012, it was designed to provide a supportive environment that helps students develop cultural understanding necessary to succeed in school.

“I wanted to come to America because I knew I’d have a better chance to learn and experience more,” Joanne said, echoing the sentiments of her classmates.

Alice Wang ’18, a native of China, hopes to attend medical school and she said Saint Viator could help her get there, while senior Andy Wang said he wanted more opportunities and more choices in colleges, which Saint Viator could provide.

“I came here because I wanted to experience another culture and see other parts of the world,” said Krystal Zheng ’18. “And here, I found more activities to become involved with.”

In fact, Krystal plays piano in the music ministry ensemble, but her classmates also described playing in the band, participating in lacrosse, competing on the math team and playing piano in the jazz band.

internationalStill, they shared that they sometimes struggle with the language barrier and are too shy to ask the teacher for help. They also voiced concerns about making friends with American students.

“I think it’s important for American students to learn our culture, too,” said Yiran Liu ‘19. “If they knew more about our culture, maybe they would talk to us more.”

Mrs. Rose Ruffatto directs Saint Viator’s international program, with the assistance of Mrs. Stephanie Spiewak. At the faculty meeting, they urged club moderators to reach out to international students and invite them to participate.

“Our growing international program offers all of our students a chance to embrace cultural differences and create lifetime friendships,” Mrs. Ruffatto says. “As we get to know our international students better, we realize that learning about differences in our cultures doesn’t really make us different, it just makes us better.