International students add to diversity on Tabor campus

Bradley White (left) of Canada and Rafael Marins of Brazil are two of the nearly 20 international students studying at Tabor this semester. ?We all have good relationships,? Marins said. ?It?s not like the Germans together, the Brazilians together. We?re all friends.?By Jared Janzen

Special to The Free Press

Few things could make a young man or woman decide to leave his or her country for several years to move to an obscure town with a population of 3,000 people.

Tabor College, however, has that power.

Nearly 20 students at Tabor this academic year come from different countries.

Countries currently represented are Canada, Mexi?co, Brazil, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Venezuela, Eng?land, Germany, Grenada, Papua New Guinea and the British Virgin Islands.

Lee Waldron, director of admissions at Tabor, said international recruitment usually begins with student initiative.

?Primarily international students inquire of us, or coaches bring them to our attention,? Waldron said. ?The email gets forwarded to me and I start a conversation to gauge their interest.?

Waldron then explains to them admissions steps, acceptance standards, costs, scholarships and other factors.

Many of these students come to participate on athletic teams.

Senior Rafael Marins from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, plays defender for the men?s soccer team.

Marins discovered Tabor after applying to a recruiting service in Brazil that works with finding colleges for athletes to play in the United States.

The service found several colleges that would offer him scholarships, but Marins picked Tabor because it was recommended by the recruiters.

The men?s soccer team is Tabor?s melting pot, with players coming from Ger?many, England, Brazil, Ecua?dor, Haiti and the British Virgin Islands, not to mention players from all across the U.S.

Marins said he has enjoyed playing on such an ethnically diverse team.

?We all have good relationships,? Marins said. ?It?s not like the Germans together, the Brazilians together. We?re all friends.?

Marins has been at Tabor four years and plans to graduate in December 2014 with degrees in business and international studies.

Though he is unsure of his plans for after graduation, Marins said he might stay in the U.S. a little longer to gain work experience, and then either return to Brazil or move on to a new country.

Senior Bradley White came to the United States from Lardner, British Columbia, four years ago to play baseball. His freshman year he played for Park University in Missouri, but then decided to transfer to Tabor after hearing about it from a friend who had attended here.

White said he is much happier at Tabor than he was at his previous college.

?I love the people here,? White said. ?I love the small college?it feels almost like my hometown.?

As a pitcher for the baseball team, White said he has enjoyed the baseball program, especially because there are several other Canadians on the team, which, he said, creates a sense of home.

After he graduates with a degree in business management in May 2014, White may decide to stay in the U.S. if he can find an internship he likes, but he thinks he is more likely to return to Canada to look for a job.

?I have a strong base of family back home,? White said.

Though most international students who come to Tabor are athletes, Waldron said several students, such as missionaries? kids, have come for other reasons in past years.

Tabor works hard with prospective international students to guarantee they will have a good experience. International students receive a $4,000 scholarship in lieu of Pell Grants or student loans available to U.S. citizens. This scholarship is in addition to the academic and sports scholarships they receive.

According to Waldron, the fact that Tabor is a Christ-centered college is a factor for about half of international students who come here, which he said is a similar percentage to students who come from within the United States.

Marins and White agree that the Christian atmosphere at Tabor has had a positive impact on their lives.

Marins was raised as a Catholic, but he said that he now knows more about God and studies the Bible more than he used to.

White was not a Chris?tian when he decided to come to Tabor, but he and his mother thought he would be better off in a Christian atmosphere.

Tabor?s Christian focus has turned out to be something he likes because he feels the unity among the students and professors.

?Tabor has allowed me to become more familiar with God, whether it be through chapel, the Christian classes we take, or the baseball team?s Bible studies,? White said.

International students impact Tabor campus and the Hillsboro community through the richness and diversity of their cultures.

In the classroom, these students offer unique perspectives on discussion topics. In the cafeteria, their cultures are sometimes represented with special meals to expose the student body to foreign cuisine.

As the current school year approaches its halfway point, Waldron is already going through the recruitment process with half a dozen international students for next year.

?I think it?s a benefit to us as a campus and as an institution,? Waldron said in reference to international recruitment. ?I?m always passionate about it.?

Jared Janzen wrote this article as an assignment in his Mass Media Writing class at Tabor College.

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