International students flock to SRJC

Mitchell Garcia-Buckley , Staff Writer

Santa Rosa Junior College’s international student program is on the rise, thanks to Director Peg Saragina and her team.

The program has grown by 34 students this year because of the worldwide recruiting done by Saragina and her team. One hundred sixty-two students from 52 countries are enrolled at SRJC this semester.

The International Student Club helps students to get past their anxiety about moving to another country and enjoy life in Santa Rosa by connecting them with people in the same situation.

“If you live in Santa Rosa it is a lot more comfortable,” said Chinese international student Fu Xiao Lei.

Lei is most excited about access to 24-Hour Fitness. He says in China he can only go to the gym during the day and it is difficult to make it during those hours.

Since he was 13-years-old, he has wanted to attend an NBA game, and now at 27 he can. When it comes to basketball, Lei says no matter where you go, some things stay the same. “If you have ability the people will respect you,” he said.

A few students were concerned about some aspects of American life. “I was worried about the racism problem,” said Haitian international student Dieph Domingue.

During his first trip to the United States strangers refused to sit next to Domingue on a bus because of his skin. However, this time he has a strong sense of unity from within the program. “Here, it’s like I’m home,” he said.

Saragina and her team make these experiences possible. They travel around the world meeting with agents from international schools as well as using video chat to communicate with international students. Through widespread marketing, they inform students from other countries about SRJC. “[It’s] like a small business. You have to be an entrepreneur,” Saragina said.