Community partners needed at Plattsburgh State

Christine Pawlowicz and Dimitri Turner at Plattsburgh State’s Global Education Office.

Christine Pawlowicz and Dimitri Turner at Plattsburgh State’s Global Education Office. Photo by Stephen Bartlett.

PLATTSBURGH — It takes minimal commitment, yet it provides an international student with a sense of home away from home.

Suddenly, settling into America doesn’t seem so foreign.

It provides locals with a glimpse into another culture.

“This has been going on for six years,” said Michelle St. Onge, coordinator of Partners in Cross-Cultural Learning at Plattsburgh State.

And it needs more volunteer community partners.

This fall, more than 350 international students from 72 different countries are enrolled at Plattsburgh State.

The university enrolls roughly 100 new international students each fall, and 30 new ones each spring.

To help students feel comfortable in their new home and learn about American culture off campus, Partners in Cross-Cultural Learning matches interested community members with first-year international students for cross-cultural social events and friendships.

“Students do not live with their community partners,” said Christine Pawlowicz, graduate assistant for Partners in Cross-Cultural Learning. “They are still on campus.”

The program is sponsored by the Global Education Office at Plattsburgh State and provides students an authentic experience of life in the United States.

It also gives local residents a glimpse into different cultures through interactions with students.

The social exchange allows international students to establish a friendly and supportive link to the community.

“We offer each new student an opportunity to connect in a home away from home,” St. Onge said.

Each semester, students are matched with community residents and meet about once a month according to their own schedules for formal activities such as family dinners. Partners in Cross-Cultural Learning also coordinates various social activities throughout the semester such as apple picking, maple sugaring, ice skating and sledding parties.

There are currently more than 50 volunteer and international student partnerships through the program.

There was a huge response from students for the fall semester.

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