Lamar University welcomes first exchange students since start of pandemic

For the first time since the start of the pandemic, Lamar University has accepted five international semester exchange students from South Korea, Germany and France.

On Thursday, Jan. 13, Ricarda Scheel, Dakyung Park, Sung Woo Cho, Young Yeun Han and Paul Gaillard arrived in the United States and made their way to Beaumont. The group was welcomed to the LU campus by Mustapha Jordini, executive director of the Office of International Education Services, Study Abroad and student exchange coordinator Mary Alice Haas and LUPD escort Leslie Perkins –– they wasted no time immersing themselves into LU campus culture. arrival-to-united-states

“Our students have already attended New Student Orientation, taken a campus tour, attended a basketball game here on campus and we also took a special trip to Walmart where we made sure they were squared away with living items for the semester like bedding, towels and food,” Haas said. “This group is really excited to attend more of our events across campus. What’s most impactful is that our semester exchange students are able to interact closely with our domestic students and inspire them to think about pursuing a semester exchange.”

As part of the semester-long exchange, the five students will participate in on-campus courses and live in LU residence halls. The program also provides the students with at least two excursions both locally and outside of the immediate area to connect them with the culture of Texas.

“Our students arrive without transportation, so it’s important for us to provide them with at least two excursions off campus whether that be experiencing our wildlife and local attractions or experiencing the city culture and food in Houston” Haas said. “With exposure to new cultures comes a growth within individual students –– confidence, maturity and understanding. I think what’s exciting is that the students truly experience a development of intercultural competence right before our eyes.”

Since 2015, the LU Office of Study Abroad has welcomed around 30 exchange students from 6 different universities around the world and has sent 23 students from the Lamar University campus on student exchange. With six bilateral exchange programs across Germany, South Korea, France, Taiwan and Spain, the department has a mission to offer students transformative learning opportunities that foster academic development, personal growth and intercultural competence. 

“When our exchange students come here, they’re able to communicate with students in a country that most of them have never been to. They get exposure to share the different cultures, customs, family traditions and holidays,” Haas said. “We have such a unique culture at Lamar university –– everyone here is proud to attend the university. I believe that there’s a of pride that our exchange students will experience being a temporary resident in Texas and being a Cardinal.”