Global Exposure in Downtown Boston

International and domestic students benefit from learning together
Yucong Xu, Kathy Sparaco, and Felipe Giesteira in front of sign saying welcome in many languages
Graduate student Yucong Xu with Kathy Sparaco, executive director of the INTO Suffolk program, and undergraduate Felipe Giesteira.

Professor Timothy Brown enjoys his front-row seat on the world of global education as he fosters connections between international and American students in his classroom and beyond.

International students have long favored Suffolk, and their numbers have increased since the University formed a relationship with INTO University Partnerships in 2017.

Fostering a global network

“This partnership allows our domestic students to have exposure to diversity and a much more global experience in their education and our INTO students to expand their English and academic skills through a wealth of services at Suffolk,” said Brown, assistant director of Academic Advising in the Division of Student Success. “The students also build a social and professional network that spans the globe.”

Brown teaches a one-credit course designed to help domestic and international students—including those entering the University through the INTO program—make a successful transition to Suffolk and the Boston community while focusing on the principles and concepts of oral communication and presentation skills. He considers uniting students through learning to be the best part of his job.

His students get to know each other as they collaborate on research and presentations, and he helps international students learn everything they can about Boston, right down to navigating the public transportation system.

“We talk about Boston – its history, culture, strong youth involvement—and that it’s a very international city,” said Brown. “We want them to feel right at home.”

Like a family

Felipe Giesteira of Brazil, who admits to being a bit scared in January 2018 when he arrived in Boston, appreciates Suffolk’s approach to acclimating international students.

“I left my family, my friends, and my city behind to come to a new country without the basics of English,” said Giesteira. “I didn’t even know how to say ‘hello’ when I first came here. The INTO program is like a community inside the University. Being part of it and studying at a great University with students from all over the world makes me feel part of a family.”

English immersion

Giesteira initially filled his schedule with academic English courses, focused on reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

“I forced my mind to just speak English wherever I went inside and outside of school,” he said. “If I was in a store, a restaurant, or at a game, my main focus was to stop talking Portuguese and start talking English.

Giesteira, a marketing major, has now added math and business courses to his curriculum and will be ready to enter the regular college program in fall 2019. His goal after earning his Suffolk degree is to secure a position promoting Major League Soccer globally.

“Suffolk has been more than I expected,” said Giesteira. “You have to pay attention to everything because the learning is so intense. Everyone is here to help you and that’s a perfect situation for me.”

Providing a pathway

Students like Giesteira are making great strides through the INTO Suffolk program, which provides pathway programs to students from around the globe.

INTO’s first class was comprised of 34 students. The program has now grown to 140 students representing 33 countries, including China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

“Suffolk brings academic excellence and reputation to this partnership,” said Kathy Sparaco, executive director of the INTO Suffolk program. “Our purpose is to get undergraduate and graduate students to successfully matriculate into Suffolk, and the exciting news is that 59 students have done so thus far.

Building confidence

Yucong Xu, of China, better known as Abby, came to America this past summer and is pursuing a master’s degree, beginning with the INTO Suffolk program. She has been taking academic English courses to improve her writing and listening skills along with courses focused on American literature and community engagement.

“I like my professors because they teach in a way that is easy for me to understand,” she said.

Xu earned an undergraduate degree in sociology from Sun Yat-sen University in China. She worked as a manager for a marketing and promotional company in China, but she wanted to learn English to improve her stature in the workplace.

“I now feel more confident when communicating with people, which has helped me make friends with my classmates and neighbors,” said Xu.

“Coming to Suffolk and Boston has been a big challenge and adjusting to a whole new world. The INTO program has been a positive experience that has improved my life.”


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