Cultured Campus — Japanese

El Vaquero Staff Writer

When international student Japanese Hirono Enami, left Tokyo, Japan, in May 2002 to study in California, she never dreamed that she would be enrolled at GCC and be an elected president of the International Students Club.

Neither did she dream that she would be elected officer of ASGCC three times and would receive the 2004 award for Woman of Distinction.
She is also a part-time staff member of the International Student Center and the Service Learning Center.

Enami, 21, is majoring in International Relations, and plans to transfer to San Diego State University or UCLA. She loves children. She is aiming to get a job with the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF), an instittuion known for helping to improve the lives of needy children all over the world.

As president of the International Students Club, Enami said, “Our goal is to involve everybody, share and discover new cultures, influence new friends and ideas…. To me, whatever we believe, we can do it.”

“I enjoyed being a part of the cabinet member. My tremendous experience working with the team during my term is just beyond my imagination, and my English also improved,” said Raquel Ponce, 24, of Mexico, a psychology major, and the International Students Club’s social chairperson.

We have approximately 525 to 550 international students from 50 different countries,” David J. Nelson, the Director of International Recruitment and Outreach International Student Program, said.
“Each international student, attending GCC, has to show the U.S.

immigration at least $16,582 in her or his bank account, covering one academic year of expenses,” said Arminuhi Andzhu, the Student Services Assistant.

International students pay $166 each unit at GCC compared to a California resident paying only $26 per unit. They are also required to maintain a passing grade point average and a minimum of 12 credit units per semester or suffer the loss of their student visa if they fail to do both. Then throw in the high cost of books, food, transportation and housing. Unfortunately, as foreign students, they are not illegible for financial aid and employment off campus.

Imagine being a foreign youth just out of high school and having never been in Los Angeles or Glendale, California — often, the distance involves crossing oceans and continents.

Picture all the obstacles that could happen especially encountering the tough U.S. immigration policy after 9/11, or passing TOEFL test for foreign students, excellent high school academic grades, language barriers, personal security and economic factors all parents of students from another country must consider.

Fear of the unknown in a strange land is of course real. Yet international students share enthusiasm for meeting new challenges and adventures.

With their visions focused on the future their strong commitment in coming to this campus is in itself a success story.

Enami’s desire to attend GCC did not come easy. While a high school senior at the High School (Affiliated) to Tokyo Metropolitan University, she asked her parents to allow her to attend a school in California.

“In my whole senior year, I begged my parents to let me go …” Enami said. “They said ‘No!’ Also…like my parents, my high school teachers wanted me to go to a university in Tokyo — ‘better,’ they insisted.”

But Enami saw her journey to the future beyond speaking solely Japanese and living in Tokyo. With her grandparents’ willingness to supply financial support for her American education, she took it upon herself to apply to the American English Academy and for a U.S. student visa.
Upon graduation, she surprised her parents with her U.S. student visa, and American school documents. Her parents mellowed.

While attending the American English Academy in L.A. to learn English, she visited various school campuses and discovered GCC.

Believing she can do it, 18 months later at GCC, Enami not only speaks nearly perfect English, but she is also a good influence to her fellow students, a respected and hardworking student leader.

Why GCC? According to Enami, “not only did I fall for the very pleasant, relaxed environment of the campus, but I also appreciate the friendly staff and the huge diversity of students…the professors are cool.

The departments and the student services are well organized…easy to find where a student needs to go.”

“Many of them [international students] like to get involved. They learn leadership positions, extra curricular activities and get involved with the community. Hirono is a very good example,” said Nelson.

“One of the most important things that I’ve learned on this campus as a President of the International Students Club and an officer of ASGCC is confidence. It’s Ttue. Whatever we believe, we can do it,” Enami said.