More than a dozen students from the eastern European nation recently stopped by campus, getting a taste of life at an American community college.
Pasta dishes. Taylor Swift. Dogs.
These are the things Schoolcraft College students in Professor Colleen Pilgrim’s social psychology course found they loved in common with a group of students visiting the College from Ukraine earlier this fall.
More than a dozen students recently came to campus as a part of a program called Global Ties Detroit, a nonprofit organization that hosts international students on behalf of the United States Department of State and other groups.
Spending several days in metro Detroit the Ukrainian students traveled across the region, visiting places such as Toledo Museum of Art, Mexicantown in Detroit, a trick-or-treating event in West Bloomfield, several Ukrainian businesses and organizations in the area and – just for fun – Great Lakes Crossing.
“We are trying to do a slice of everything,” said Laura Kline, a program consultant for Global Ties Detroit who has accompanied the students on their trip to Michigan.
The students were originally scheduled to come to the U.S. several years ago, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed that trip. Now, in 2023, the students have come for several weeks, first visiting Washington, D.C., before arriving in Detroit.
They arrived at Schoolcraft College to meet with students and experience time at an American community college. In addition to meeting with students in Pilgrim’s Social Psychology class, they also spent time relaxing in the Student Activities facilities in the Waterman Wing of the Vistatech Center.
Pilgrim said her course is a global one, being tied in through the Schoolcraft College International Institute, which weaves cross-cultural learning opportunities into the coursework.
Kline, who formerly taught at Wayne State University, said she had participated in previous Multicultural Fairs at Schoolcraft College and knew it was a great place to bring international students. She has previously brought students from other nations to the campus in Livonia, including some from Kazakhstan last year.
“I’ve loved Schoolcraft. You guys are always awesome. Everything you do here is awesome,” Kline said.
Akhtem Amzayev, a Ukrainian who traveled with the students to the U.S., said they see many parallels between the Midwestern city and their home nation. With their home country currently at war with Russia, leaving plenty destroyed, the students have seen what a city can be as it bounces back from difficult times, as Detroit has in recent years.
For them, Amzayev said, that gives the students a new perspective before they headed home.
“I think what’s important for students from Ukraine is to see Detroit and all its challenges that it’s had and now it’s recovering,” he said. “Now they see how it’s rebuilding and the students from Ukraine, where a lot of destruction is happening, that gives them hope.”