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Calvin first in Michigan, fifth in nation for study abroad and international enrollment

Photo courtesy calvin.edu.
Photo courtesy calvin.edu.

A 2013 Open Doors Report by the Institute of International Education has ranked Calvin College third nationally for its high enrollment of international students and fifth for study-abroad students.

According to the Open Doors Report, Calvin students who enroll in study-abroad programs make up 16 percent of the student body while international students make up 13 percent of the student body. The ranking places Calvin first in Michigan among baccalaureate schools for international and study-abroad enrollment.

Don De Graaf, director of off-campus programs, says the report highlights the demand for off-campus programs at Calvin.

“I think Calvin is very blessed,” De Graaf said. “Through all the years of all the hard work done with off-campus programs, we have created a culture at Calvin where off-campus programs are sought after and valued.”

De Graaf attributes the success of off-campus programs to the whole school.

“It is a team effort,” De Graaf said. “We appreciate advisors who encourage students to go, health services who help make sure every student is taken care of and every person at Calvin who helps make it happen. We [office of off-campus programs] are happy to be part of the success because it is a plus for the campus.”

The Open Doors Report is a yearly study funded by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the United States Department of State. According to the report’s website, the report works as a comprehensive information resource on international students studying in the U.S and U.S. students studying abroad for academic credit.

Nunana Nyomi, associate director of international admissions, says being ranked by the report is very important.

“The report is good validation of our commitment to building community by enrolling students from different parts of the world,” Nyomi said. “The Open Doors Report is a well-established report, so it is great that we are being benchmarked by a well-known outsider for our efforts.”

Nyomi attributes the high enrollment of international students to the school’s commitment to global engagement.

“Among Christian schools, we are very well known for our global engagement,” Nyomi said. “We have very well-established relationships with schools in various countries. We have school-appointed representatives in a number of countries such as China and Ghana. We also have many options for study-abroad programs, which has helped us interest international and local students.”

Nyomi also stressed the benefits Calvin offers international students.

“The other factors that play a significant role in attracting international students are the many reputable majors we offer such as engineering and education,” Nyomi said. “That in addition to easily available on-campus housing, on-campus jobs, good financial aid and a hospitable environment for all students helps us have an edge to attracting international students.”

Students are also pleased with the ranking.

“I think that Calvin’s high enrollment of international students and many study-abroad programs is something to be celebrated,” said Lea Wibisono, a senior student from Indonesia. “We come from many different backgrounds — it should be something we share. We can all learn something from each other.”

One international student suggested that the abundance of study-abroad programs creates opportunities for cross-cultural conversation.

“I am happy that Calvin has many study-abroad programs and lots of international students because it opens up the opportunity for students to learn about new cultures,” said Amanda Tackie, a sophomore student from Ghana. “As an international student myself, I like that American students are able to experience my culture through the study-abroad program in Ghana.”

Calvin currently offers 12 off-campus semester programs and more than 25 short term off-campus programs through Interim classes.

“There is an off-campus program for everyone,” said De Graaf. “In the long run, we hope to make it more accessible and affordable for all students.”

De Graaf hopes off-campus programs will help students connect with each other.

“I would love to see us connect our students who travel abroad with international students who have lived in those places,” De Graaf said. “Experiencing the culture helps build a connection.”

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