International Student Conference

Jun 21, 2011

The number of foreign born students studying English at Eastern Kentucky University has grown steadily over the past decade.  The program is nearly back to pre-nine-eleven levels

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the worst terror attack on American soil.   Immediately after 9-11, the number of international students at E-K-U plunged.  Many foreign-nationals, especially those from the Middle East, could not get student visas into the United States. Shelby White teaches English as a second language.

“After nine-eleven, we were down to eleven students and I thought we were going to close.  Currently we have probably 80 to 90 students.  Most of those students are from Saudi Arabia,” said White.

White says more than 70 of the students in the program are from Saudi Arabia.  Most all of these international students are male.

“I hate for our program to have all of our eggs in one basket cause, you know, if something happens, if there is another nine eleven or if there is some kind of political turmoil in Saudi Arabia or somebody gets mad at each other and that money is cut off, then we’re gonna be back down to eleven students  or maybe a little bit more,” added White.

While he’s learned a lot about the Saudi culture, White wishes there were more students from other countries.  In the past, he says there were a high number of Japanese and Korean students.   E-K-U hosted a state meeting Tuesday of the national association of international educators.

John Honeycutt, who’s a state coordinator with the National Association of International Educators, says students and communities both reap benefits.

“Not only is it good for the international students that are coming, but it’s also beneficial to places they are coming to in the United States,” said Honeycutt.

Honeycutt says there are both cultural and financial benefits when international students come to a university like E-K-U.