On April 20, the International Student Programs at Bellevue College hosted a field trip to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. Every year during the month of April, the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is one of the places in the Pacific Northwest to enjoy watching millions of tulips bloom in the acres and acres of varying species and colors.
Linda Annabel, International Student Life and Activities Coordinator, planned the trip for international students. “As a student life coordinator, I help with personal problems. If somebody has problems with being homesick, or they’re having a serious medical problem, they come to me asking ‘what do I do?’ and I help them as best as possible. And as Activities Coordinator, I help plan trips such as this one.”
For only a $10 fee, students were provided a big bus ride with everyone to the tulip festival itself. What was a lengthy hour and a half bus ride felt relatively short with the group of people.
Everyone was friendly, eager to talk to others and excited to see all the tulips. After arriving, groups of students went their separate ways until returning back to the bus for a group snapshot for the ISP Facebook page. In addition to visiting the tulips, the trip included a visit to the Seattle Premier Outlet Mall for everyone to do some shopping.
Aside from being a fun event for event students born in the US, the trip was a great way to get to know people outside one’s general culture. Annable explained how “we think that it helps in two ways. It helps the students to see our geographical area.
Also, the most important thing is that we hope it helps students get to know each other. Sitting together with somebody on a bus will hopefully get students better getting to know other people. It helps overcome culture shock, homesickness, and just in general, it helps people acclimate to the area.”
The ISP, a little apartment building to the far side of the parking garage on campus, is generally overlooked by a good majority of the campus. “We do everything from the marketing before admission process all the way until the students graduate. We do admissions, all the advising for international students, insurance, activities, and such. We are very unique.
Most people don’t know the extent of involvement that we have with our students because they have to maintain a certain amount of credits in order to stay within their status as an international student,” Annable said. “A lot of people just see us in our little house.
It kind of separates us from campus so people don’t really know all that much about us.”
The main purpose is to have students gain “a sense of community that helps them know where they are. If they come here from, let’s say Hong Kong, and they don’t have a car and they live within walking distance from the college” Annable explains, “they’re pretty much stuck with where they go by bus. It’s highly unlikely that any of them would make it anywhere near the tulip festival or the outlet mall.
It gives them an idea of something.” Going to school in the US, thousands of miles away from their home country, international students not only want to study what they came here to study but also gain experience and knowledge in the different cultures that come with the diversity of the Seattle area.
Linda explained her hope that international students come away with vivid memories of their experiences. “I hope that they’ll take away not only a sense of community and the culture of the college, but also so they can take memories of the beautiful Seattle area.”
Any professional who is eager to come to work is always nice to see.
“I love my job,” Annable said, “I think that the international students really are the greatest in the world. It’s a privilege and I feel honored to help people feel accustomed to our college.”