International mix flavors diversity

Kelly Cernetich, Editor-in-Chief

This fall, Pitt-Johnstown became home to 25 additional international students, with the vast majority of them from China.

International Services Director Jennifer Kist said the number reflects last year’s trend: roughly 60 percent of those who enrolled last year were also Chinese.

“You’ll probably find that (majority Chinese international students) at most colleges,” Kist said.

While most of UPJ’s international resident-students applied to the University of Pittsburgh system and were placed here according to their academic skill and interests, Kist said more students are applying here directly.

“Six or seven this year were direct-enroll students.”

Kist said that her office has made great improvements to international recruitment, noting that there was only one international student in the fall of 2007.

“In a short period of time, we’ve really done a lot.”

In order to increase international visibility, UPJ participates in a number of online fairs.

It is also part of a group called the Counsel of International Schools, which acts as a resource that students from abroad can use to search for and compare schools.

Although the numbers show that China tops the list, Kist said her office is focused on branching out more to African and Indian students.

“But one of the most crucial things to retaining students . . . is providing services to them and getting them involved on campus.”

Freshman Zhibin Yao, a student from Shenyang, Liaoning Province, China, said he applied to the University of Pittsburgh and was placed at the Johnstown campus.

Yao said he thinks a language barrier has made it difficult for him to fully integrate on campus.

“I still cannot speak fluently,” he said, but added that he likes Pitt-Johnstown and the friends he has made.

“But I plan to study abroad next year (in Hong Kong) and then come back.”

Yao said he hasn’t decided whether to return to Pitt-Johnstown.

Despite some students’ decision to transfer elsewhere, Kist said many students stay.

“Only four students left last year from the international student group,” she said. Two of those students went to Pitt-Oakland, one transferred to the University of Illinois, and one did not return to the United States.