International Voices for ‘International Education Week’

When Shao-Chieh Lien first decided to transfer to Purdue from college in Taiwan, he knew the experience would offer both opportunity and challenge. Lien viewed the U.S. as a place of modernity, creativity, and innovation. He hoped Purdue’s resource-rich environment would help him to soak up new knowledge, while mastering practical skills. Furthermore, he figured he’d be in good company.

Honors college Student Shao-Chieh Lien

 “I wanted to learn with the best classmates,” Lien said. “Purdue students are self-motivated, smart, and hard-working. People are confident about themselves, so they are willing to share their knowledge and help each other.”

Like most international students, Lien has had some growing pains as he adjusts to life in the U.S. Still, he calls life at Purdue “too good to be true” and the Honors College a value-add.

“Purdue Honors College emphasizes leadership, interdisciplinary learning, and an international perspective,” he said. “They gather top students from each major. Together, we are learning how to solve global challenges. We see things from a different perspective.”

The Honors College is celebrating those varied, international viewpoints as part of International Education Week (IEW), November 18-22. IWE is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education. It seeks to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment, while attracting future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences.

“The Purdue classroom is often the location of the first intercultural interactions for some students,” Honors College Associate Dean for International Education and Affairs Natasha Duncan explained. “Our goal is to foster opportunities for Honors College students to engage in intercultural, transformative learning and/or research in their classrooms at Purdue, outside the United States, or across the country.”

Duncan’s International Education and Affairs Office is designed to help students unlock their highest potential as they develop into globally and locally-aware citizens.

“I think international diversity is essential everywhere,” Honors College student Ana Pascual-Garrigos said. “Having people from different backgrounds accomplish a task together brings so much more creativity and critical thinking to the environment.”

Pascual-Garrigos is a junior studying biochemistry and president of the Honors College’s Global Engagement Committee. She was born in Zaragoza, Spain but moved to Fishers, Indiana in 2015. 

“There’s always a challenge when studying abroad,” Pascual-Garrigos said. “For me, the hardest part was understanding American culture in general.”

Additionally, she says many Americans don’t realize the struggles international students face when working outside Purdue or pursuing internships. “The process is 10 times harder for us than it is for someone who is an American resident,” she added. 

Lien agrees.

“It takes time to get to know a country,” he said. “To me, the best way is to observe and ask the right questions.” Lien was also worried about racism before coming to the U.S., but didn’t hesitate to make connections. He was determined to meet as many people as possible.  

“I found most people were friendly and even met some friends who embraced me like family, ” Lien explained. “I finally figured out that, in fact, jerks exist in every place — even in Taiwan — but they are the minority.”