Global Gems: Unveiling the valuable contributions of international students


mohcine "mo" khadraoui takes a selfie with a group of studentsGrowing up in his home country of 阿尔及利亚, Mohcine “Mo” Khadraoui recognized students who were viewed as “slow” or “didn’t like school,” at least those are the labels they were given. He knew there were special institutions for youth who were blind, 充耳不闻, 或者有其他严重的残疾, but those with mild disabilities were little more than a footnote.

“There’s no such thing as special education in 阿尔及利亚,”莫说。, a second-year graduate student in Special 教育 and Applied Disability Studies at Mercyhurst. “Here you have IEPs, benchmark testing, and all kinds of programs. I was like, ‘Wow, I’m passionate about this.’” 

最终, Mo hopes to create a Special 教育 program in his home country, a goal that gratifies program director and professor of Special 教育 Dr. 菲尔Belfiore. 

“Students with disabilities exist in all countries while services are scarce,” Belfiore said. “Our graduate program provides expertise in pedagogy and practice that can be transferred internationally. Our international grads become experts when they return home.”

Belfiore said the university’s Special 教育 grad program doesn’t often get international students, but this year he’s thrilled to have five newcomers, 包括Irene Serwaa Agyapong , Stephen巨人, 和伊曼纽尔·科杜阿·亚钱邦, all of Ghana; Ivana Maria Acosta Maradiaga, Honduras; and Manuela Quevedo Fonseca, 哥伦比亚. 

In addition to acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary to make a difference in their respective communities, international students have a better understanding of the cultural nuances of their home countries, which can be vital when designing and implementing new initiatives such as Mo envisions doing. They can help tailor services to meet the unique needs and cultural contexts of their communities.

For Mo, Mercyhurst is a gift that almost wasn’t. As a student at the Universite՛ Yahia Fares in Médéa, 阿尔及利亚, he was accepted into the Global Undergraduate Exchange Program (Global UGRAD), 将未来的领导者带到美国.S. 体验高等教育, 获得关键的专业技能, 探索新的文化和价值观. He was assigned to Mercyhurst where he would undertake one semester of study. But COVID hit and his departure was delayed until the fall of 2021, at which time he had already graduated from college with a degree in English and Linguistics. 

His semester at Mercyhurst was a total immersion experience; he made friends, 加入了俱乐部, 玩体育, and discovered the Special 教育 graduate program and what could very well be his future. He quickly decided that one semester wasn’t enough and enrolled in the master’s degree program. 

Mercyhurst is home to 136 international students, 包括22名研究生, Courtney Olevnik说, director of International Student Services. This year, the university welcomed its largest class of internationals since 2019. 

Like many of them, Mo is eager to apply his education to the needs of his home country. 但这还不是全部. He appreciates the reciprocal nature of the international student program that allows him to share his global perspective in classroom discussions, and to enrich the academic experience with his different viewpoints and experiences, a measure of which he shares at the Robert Benjamin Wiley Community Charter School, where he is teaching middle school students this semester.

出生在外国,会说多种语言, Mo had an instant connection with the numerous Hispanic children in his class who 他说 typically speak Spanish at home. Celebrating the differences among his young students and broadening their world view is highly rewarding, 他说. 

One of his most satisfying experiences was staging International Day. He dressed in traditional attire of 阿尔及利亚 and brought with him a contingent of Mercyhurst’s international students representing Taiwan, 韩国, 日本, 俄罗斯, 法国, 德国, 摩洛哥, 利比里亚, 尼加拉瓜, 哥伦比亚, 和多米尼加共和国. They set up different stations in the school cafeteria with activities, 衣服, 菜, 以及描绘他们文化的物品. To make the experience even more appealing, students were given passports and had them stamped at each station they visited.

“孩子们学到了很多,”莫说. “我注意到它的影响力有多大. They even learned to write their names in different languages.”

Mo said his experience as an international student at Mercyhurst has been rewarding and, as president of the International Student Association, he hopes his contemporaries feel the same. 

图片:阿尔及利亚人Mohcine " Mo " Khadraoui, 前沿, is joined by some of Mercyhurst’s international students at the “International Day” he organized at the Robert Benjamin Wiley Community Charter School, where he is teaching middle school students this semester.