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Siena Offers Support for Growing International Student Population

Siena Offers Support Services for Growing International Student Population

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

By Julia Hess '15

While walking around the Siena campus, you’ll hear many warm greetings, including an increasing amount of “hola,” “bonjour,” or “nǐ hǎo,” to go along with “hello” and “how are ya?”

As part of the current strategic plan, “Living Our Tradition,” Siena is creating a culture of diversity by setting a goal to annually increase the school’s international student population. The College has exceeded its goal, doubling the number of international students it had targeted for enrollment.

With this growth comes the increased need for student support. That’s where Melody Hallenbeck Nadeau, Ph.D. comes in. As assistant director of Siena’s Center for International Programs and an instructor of English for Speakers of Other Languages, Nadeau has developed classes aimed at helping Siena’s international students sharpen their English language skills.

“We don’t just want to be a diverse community, we want the students to be successful,” Nadeau said.

Nadeau’s classes focus on communication, grammar, academic writing, speaking and listening. She wants her students to take the skills that they learn in the classroom and put them to work in their everyday lives. Nadeau does this by helping her students learn the American adage of ‘pay it forward’ by spending time on the weekends participating in the Siena College Urban Scholars Program.

Siena’s Writing Center offers additional support by giving international students a comfortable place to tackle the issues that they face adapting to college in America. Students enroll in the ESOL mentoring program where they are paired with tutors who meet with them each week to go over class assignments and address personal or social questions.

“I find it really rewarding getting to know them beyond academic work,” said Matt Schiesel’15, an English major and ESOL program coordinator. “We hang out outside of the Writing Center, going to events on campus or getting dinner together.”

Schiesel’s interest in the program stemmed from his own experience studying abroad in Glasgow, Scotland. “From my time abroad, I recognized that culture shock is a big factor when you’re experiencing a new college, let alone a new culture,” Schiesel said. “Giving students this opportunity to work through any issues they may be facing can be quite rewarding.”

Brazilian student Felipe Muzzetti started at Siena last fall. Muzzetti said working with students like Schiesel at the Writing Center is a tremendous help.

“Matt helps me a lot,” Muzzetti said. “Not only school work but any other questions about other subjects. He has a general knowledge about different subjects, which makes a student feel confident when they are studying or doing homework with him.”

Muzzetti dreamed of studying in America and thanks to Writing Center and Nadeau’s ESOL program, his experience has been a tremendous success. In any language, that speaks volumes about the work being done to help all Siena students become well-spoken and globally-engaged.