International Students and the Process of Becoming a Viking By Ella Lowry

Saint John’s Catholic Prep community is comprised of students with different cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Our school believes in a diverse community that contributes to an enriching experience of different perspectives, customs, and traditions. So how does this all become possible? The help of our International Students Coordinator, Mrs. Young Lee, who helps to make this possible at our school.

Mrs. Young Lee works with Saint John’s Catholic Prep to assist international students and their families who wish to enroll. I had the pleasure of talking to Mrs. Young Lee about what she does for our school, as well as her perspective on what it is like for the international students at our school. I asked her about the components of job and what the process is like to get international students enrolled at Saint John’s Catholic Prep.

Mrs. Young Lee has been working with international students for over 20 years. One of the main things she helps students with is the I-20. The I-20 is a multi-purpose document issued by a U.S. government-approved educational institution certifying that a student has been admitted to a full-time study program and has demonstrated sufficient financial resources to stay in the United States. Another major step in enrolling as an international student for Mrs. Young Lee is helping students with is getting an F-1 Visa. These both can have multiple and various difficulties. Getting both of these major documents finalized and official is no easy process at all! It can sometimes take months.

Once all the documents are official, Mrs. Young Lee works as a mentor for all the international students. She helps them find housing and American families who will take care of them, which is not easy at all. Finding families and safe housing can be difficult. There can be family feuds, disagreements, and more. Adapting to American life and culture is one thing that is often difficult for a lot of international students. Mrs. Young Lee told me that culturally, there is a big difference, and in most cases, the students are only children, so it is difficult to adjust to American life where you have to be so independent.

Before school is in session, Mrs. Young Lee ensures that the teachers are prepared and ready to teach any new international student. She revealed that most years, when there are a lot of international students, she has a summer training day for all the teachers. In doing this, Mrs. Young Lee ensures that new and current teachers are ready to teach international students. She also told me that this training prepares them physically, and mentally.

When it is time for school to start, Mrs. Young Lee helps out all the international students. She communicates with them regularly and just checks in on them frequently. She helps make the transition a little smoother.

I asked Mrs. Young Lee what it is like for these international students once they arrive at a new school. She told me there are different academic rules, so adjusting to that may be difficult for some. Also, a major hardship for these students is the language. Not just speaking it, but also writing and reading. It is vital that the teachers do get training in order to help these students.

Although all of this is very difficult, there are lots of positives! When I asked Mrs. Young Lee her favorite parts of her job, there were many great things! She told me that she had a student that graduated Valedictorian, and another student who was friends with everyone at the end of the year. She revealed that there were a lot of success stories throughout the many years. And that many more are to come!

It is wonderful that our school can provide such an amazing education for international students, which is great for our school community overall! All the work that Mrs. Young Lee does not go unnoticed. Her work and dedication helps many students enjoy a lot of life-changing opportunities.

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