International students at COD share their stories

By Sabrina Messaoudi

Staff writer

Photo courtesy of College of the Desert

College of the Desert counts 122 international students enrolled in academic programs and 11 enrolled in the Intensive English Academy. Cody McCabe, director of the International Education Program (IEP), says approximately 50 new international students are enrolled at COD during the 2017-18 academic year.

Numbers of international students coming to COD each year vary considerably. Over the 30 countries that represent the IEP, COD welcomes more students from China than any other country.

Rumin Xu, an international student from Shanghai, China, started her English program at COD in 2015. She initially came to the United States to care for family. “I came to the US because my parents wanted me to take care of my grandparents. My relatives suggested that I study at COD because they are alumni.” Xu has reached her last semester at COD and will be transferring to Cal State Long Beach (CSLB).

The IEP helps international students through extra guidance, a feel of community and immigration support. “Our guidance for international students often starts before they apply to COD and extends beyond their graduation and/or transfer.  In addition to complex immigration support, we assist international students with their education plans, academic success, and overall wellbeing. We strive to provide a welcoming and supportive office environment, extensive outreach activities and extracurricular programming, leadership opportunities, and meaningful connections to the campus and local community,” McCabe says.

French international student Nelson MacKenzie agrees, “I feel supported enough. The college structure provides a perfect studying environment and with the combination of a very supportive, flexible and helpful staff, it made [the choice to come to COD] very easy.” However, MacKenzie would not mind a little change. He would like to see an on-campus housing facility for both international and local students.

Despite the help from the International Education Program, being an international student often gets tough. Jaafar AL-Dahawi, international student from Iraq said, “You’re missing home, becoming an adult and have the responsibility of paying your own bills.” However, given the chance, Jaafar would do it all over again. “I would not change a single thing. I have no regrets and totally believe in fate. It was a great journey.” AL-Dahawi is graduating this semester and hopes to transfer to University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).

Through it all, Cody McCabe says International students represent COD’s ideal and are a part of the college. “International students reflect the importance of diversity in COD’s mission, vision and values. I can’t imagine our college without them,” said McCabe.  

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