Parkland international students celebrated through cultures fairs

Peter Floess

Staff Writer

Parkland boasts the highest number of international students in Illinois, a fact celebrated through events highlighting the diversity of Parkland students.bam2 (3)

International Admissions Advisor Christopher Jackson says that Parkland College has the largest international student population of a community college in Illinois with 320 students, of which 200 are full-time students.

Jackson says the reasons such for a large international student body are Parkland is seen to be a pathway to the University of Illinois, has no English language requirements to be admitted, and has an “excellent” English as a second language program. He also says most international students seem to find the support system for international students at the college supportive, and most seem to enjoy their time at Parkland.

The most common countries of origin of a Parkland international student are China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, and South Korea.

An example of a student who followed this path to Parkland is Huizi Hu from a small town in southern China. She could not afford to go to a four-year college. One of her friends went to the University of Illinois and told her about Parkland as way to get to there.

Since Hu has become part of Parkland community, she has been impressed by how much the college has to offer to her and helpful the staff is at Parkland. She feels that Parkland is an institution that more people should know about in her area of China.

Parkland College is also part of the process of normalizing of relations between the United States and Iran. Parkland has admitted some Iranian students.

Usually, international students receive their paperwork a few months in advance. The Iranian students receive their paperwork nine months in advance. The Iranian students must travel to embassy in a country with friendly relations with the United States such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. The Iranian students have one-year visas to the United States.

Jackson says the international student program reflects Parkland strong commitment to “global awareness and multiculturalism.”

Amber Landis and Sue Kuykendall, who both teach English as a second language at Parkland along with the Center for Global Studies at the University of Illinois, are hosting a cultures fair on Thursday, March 17, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the main stage of the Parkland Student Union.

The event will feature the following performances in order which they will appear:

– “Classy” belly dancing at 10 a.m.

– Parkland international students presentations at 11 a.m.

– A Chinese silk and bamboo ensemble led by Priscilla Tse of the Center of World Music at the University of Illinois at 11:30 a.m.

– A Congolese rumba ensemble called Bomoyi led by Jean Rene Balekita at 12 p.m.—Balekita and Bomoyi are on tour from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

– At 1 p.m., I Ketut Gede Asnawa of the Center of World Music will lead the Bali Lantari, an ensemble of traditional Indonesian music and dance.

– At 2 p.m., Denis Chiaramonte of the Center of World Music will lead the Capoeira Angola in a demonstration of the Brazilian martial art/dance form—the local branch of the Capoeira Angola Center of Mestre Joao Grande is based in Urbana.

In addition to the events on the main stage, students can sample snack foods from different countries in U140, and donations there will go to a non-governmental organization working to build schools in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“[There will be an] international snack station in U140, where we will be giving away pre-packaged snacks from various countries around the world if a trivia question is answered correctly,” Landis said. “We are hoping to collect donations at both places for the NGO Build Congo Schools.”

According to Landis, the culture fairs at Parkland almost did not happen this year for the first time in over twenty years due to cuts to the Illinois state budget.

“[We] received a grant along with the Center for Global Studies at U of I to create a global cultural competence course for health professions, education, and criminal justice majors,” Landis said. “Unfortunately, that course did not get enough enrollment this semester, so they decided to use some of their grant funding for the cultures fair instead.”

The Center of Global Studies at the University of Illinois has also covered a large portion of the cost of the cultures fair.

Landis says if Parkland students want to get involved in running the cultures fairs at Parkland they can contact her at