University of Mount Olive Students Offer Global Perspective

Each year approximately 50 students from around the globe choose University of Mount Olive for their academic studies.  International students have become involved with every aspect of the College, from heading volunteer programs and participating in musical ensembles to playing sports and achieving academic success.  They bring diversity to campus and a different point of view to classroom discussions.  They also bring some healthy competition to class. Last semester, our international students earned an average grade point average (GPA) of 3.17 or higher.

On the other side, foreign students benefit from the smaller classes and individual attention found at University of Mount Olive, which is a less overwhelming experience than a large university would offer.

Kailey Preece of Canada, Emelie Anderson of Sweden and Fortunate Mwanaka of Zimbabwe recently shared some of the benefits and struggles of attending college in the USA.

Preece, a senior English major was recruited as a volleyball player.  During her four years at MOC she has been very active on campus participating in a variety of clubs and organizations.  She has also been active in the community volunteering with Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity and Make-A-Wish Foundation.

When asked how MOC has helped her transition to learning and living in the USA, Preece said, “MOC has helped me to become independent. I have learned to take care of myself and taken on a lot of responsibilities. Because it is a small school I was able to be involved in a lot on campus which was great since I came from a high school where I was very involved.”

Preece, who speaks both English and French, indicated that she has had fun learning all about the jargon used in other parts of the country.

“Although I speak English, my accent is completely unique compared to the locals. I have had to get use to terms like `ya`ll` and my friends have had to get use to me saying, `eh, `” she smiled.

As far as academics, Preece has felt challenged and supported.

“I have learned a lot from my professors, especially the English professors,” she said.  “I have always pushed myself academically, but it has been nice being able to have one-on-one time with professors if needed.”

When Fortunate Mwanaka, a sophomore chemistry major, was asked about the biggest challenge she has faced at MOC, she stated, “I’ve had to adjust to a quieter lifestyle.” “I did not expect that there would not be cabs, sidewalks or buses here.  In my hometown of Harare, which is very much like Charlotte, I was used to going bowling, catching a movie, or going site seeing.  However, I have grown to love the slower pace.  The people at the College and at my church have made me fit right in. I will never trade their love for anything else here in America.”

Mwanaka speaks English, Shona and some Ndebele and Swahili.  While at MOC she has been involved with the International Club and the Science Club.  She has also become active in Mount Olive First Pentecostal Holiness Church.  Mwanaka professes to have a reserved personality, so making friends and overcoming homesickness have been obstacles, that with time and the nurturing environment at University of Mount Olive, she has conquered.

“I have learned a good deal in the short time I have been here,” she said.  “My college experience is a great one.  Getting involved in the CAB (Campus Activity Board) events has been excellent for improving my social skills.”

Emelie Andersson, sophomore biology major, speaks Swedish and English, and understands Norwegian and Danish.  Her Mount Olive friends describe her as “Sweetish” and not “Swedish.”  A member of the women’s golf team, Andersson was named female student athlete of the month in October of 2010.

“Mount Olive is the opposite of my hometown Stockholm, the capital of Sweden,” Andersson stated.  “I am a big city girl so moving here felt very weird at the beginning.  I am use to a large city with something going on 24/7. Growing up in a nonreligious community and then move to a religious school was also a transition for me. The new food culture was a challenge too, as well as living in the dorms.”

To help international students like Andersson, Mwanaka and Preece, the Student Affairs Office is planning an expansion of services beginning in the fall semester to meet their unique and varied needs.

Vice President for Student Affairs Dan Sullivan said, “We recognize that our international student population represents a significant portion of our traditional student body. Understanding that they have many non-traditional needs will be critical in developing substantive programming that will focus on critical areas such as geographical transition, social interaction, the successful completion of basic needs, and empowering them to have the resources needed to be leaders on our campus.”

Sullivan went on to note that it is the goal of the Student Affairs office to maintain close contact with international students before, during and after their time at University of Mount Olive to help with visas, work permits, cultural transition, and whatever questions or concerns may arise.

“International students’ contribute greatly to the dynamic and diverse climate at University of Mount Olive, and we want to help them make the most of their academic experience,” Sullivan concluded.

University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The College, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Goldsboro, Research Triangle Park, Washington and Jacksonville.  For more information, visit www.moc.edu.