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AlumNews: Talon Articles

Clubs adopt international students

Saturday, November 3, 2007  
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By Tracy Corcoran

The Oklahoma Christian University social service clubs are closing the gap between students by adopting members of the Language and Culture Institute.

Iota Kappa Phi member, Casey Bunch, came up with the idea to adopt the LCI students into social service clubs. Eleven of Oklahoma Christian’s thirteen social clubs are participating in adopting LCI students. English as a Second Language Program Coordinator LJ Littlejohn said the main purpose of adopting the LCI students is to create friendships and improve the LCI students’ English. Hopefully, the students will continue to stay at the university because of developing friendships. 

“During the summer when I was reading some literature on how to get the program to be the best that it could be, some of the findings that I came across were actually fascinating,” Littlejohn said.

While searching for ways to help the ESL program reach its potential, Littlejohn discovered 86 percent of all students enrolling from a language school attached to a university because they made friends there. 

“It had nothing to do with the quality of classes or the quality of the university,” Littlejohn said. “It had only to do with the fact that they had made an American friend at that school.”

Ninety-eight percent of the LCI students have been adopted into the eleven participating social service clubs. They are encouraged to participate in every aspect of their club. Students still attending Oklahoma Christian next semester will even be able to participate in Spring Sing.

Iota president, Tiffany Stafford, said the LCI students’ involvement is not only beneficial for them, but it is also beneficial for the other members in the club.

“We let them do anything. If they want to help with Homecoming or the service projects, they can,” Stafford said. “We really want them to be involved because it’s not only good for them but good for us to learn about their culture as well.”

Lambda Chi Zeta president Mandy Holmes said all three of the women Lambda adopted attend every meeting and two of them attended the annual Lambda hayride.

“It helps plug them into an organization to where they can feel like they belong,” Holmes said.

Xiaohui Zhang, an LCI freshman, was very excited to be asked to join Sigma Chi Sigma. He attends meetings and watches intramural games.

“I like it so far,” Zhang said. “The people here are very open.”

The LCI students are not only making new friends and experiencing new things, but they are also learning English in different ways.

Littlejohn said establishing friendships helps the LCI students learn what can’t be taught in the classroom.

“For the LCI students, obviously just becoming friends with students is great, but it also improves their English,” Littlejohn said. “Language isn’t just based on words. It’s based on action, culture and slang, so what we can’t teach them, those kids can.”

Alpha Gamma Omega President Marshall Warren said the LCI students are an encouraging addition to the club.

“We were really encouraged by them because we like being diverse. We like having a lot of people that can bring something to the table,” Warren said. “Having their fellowship and their presence is encouraging to us.”

Chao Wang, an LCI freshman, has been adopted into Alpha and has made a lot of friends.

“Culture difference is a big problem for me. If I spend more and more time in our club, they will help me understand American culture,” Wang said. “Our club has helped me a lot.”

ESL instructor, Penelope Stewart, believes this is an important bridge.

“OC students are kind of afraid to approach international students, and international students are afraid to approach OC students so giving them an opportunity like a club to bridge that is huge for them,” Stewart said.

Another important factor in adopting the LCI students is for the clubs to spread the love of Christ by example, and by telling their new members about Christ.

“OC is getting experience in sharing their faith. Many times we forget you actually have to tell somebody about Jesus,” Littlejohn said. “You actually have to physically open your mouth and say, ‘Jesus is the Savior of the world. Do you know about Him?’”

Littlejohn believes it is good to be Christian examples for the adopted students, but some don’t even know Jesus’ name, so it is important to talk about Him.

“Being a good example lets them know that Americans are nice. You can’t pin that on America,” Littlejohn said. “As a Christian, you have a responsibility to pin that to Christ. You have to say, ‘I’m a nice guy because Christ is a nice guy.’”

LCI and Oklahoma Christian students have something to offer each other.

“You don’t have to be in a club to socialize with the LCI students,” Littlejohn said. “We just want to bridge the gap anyway we can, club or non-club.”


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