Student Stories: Volunteering and Other Remote Experiences

Today we’re hearing from two Vietnamese students who have recently volunteered and gotten involved on campus (remotely) with other activities! Make sure to check out the @shoreline_international Instagram for more ideas on how to Engage and Achieve!

My name is Nguyen Xuan Thien Thanh. I am an international student from Vietnam. I have been in the U.S. for 4 years. I attended my high school junior year in Spokane, Washington. I love dancing so it would not be surprising that I was a member of the school’s dance team. Then I moved to Michigan to complete my last year of high school. I was a volunteer for FIRST robotic championship for Michigan state with my host mom, who was also one of the head coaches of the team. After that, I chose Shoreline Community College to be my next stop in my education path. My first year at Shoreline was full of happiness and surprises from my friends, as well as some challenges of course. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, I had to start my second year with online courses. I have less opportunities to interact with people face to face and spend most of the time in my room. My home country was locked down as well. During the quarantine time at home, I searched online looking for different virtual volunteering opportunities. I really want to help some people while I can spend more personal time now with volunteering.  

As a result, I signed up to volunteer at ReWA (Refugee Women’s Alliance). My assigned task was to help people who speak Vietnamese register and vote in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. We confirmed with the ReWA staff if we are eligible to help as international students before receiving the training to offer translation assistance and direct the community members on different helpful website for voting information. Moreover, we would answer their phone calls as well as messages to help them in the voting process. This experience was both fun and meaningful. I had a chance to connect with the local Vietnamese community as well as learning about the democracy and voting in the U.S. I helped about 40 people during October and early November.  

Next, I look forward to volunteering for the Global Showcase, which is an annual cultural event organized by International Student Leaders at Shoreline Community College. Even though it will be a virtual event in spring, it would still be a great opportunity for Vietnamese students work together on promoting our language and culture. I’m excited to attend and participate in Global Showcase. Not only campus community can check out our work, we will get to share with more people globally in the current online environment.

Hello! My name is Vo Dang Long and I go by Jack. I have been in the U.S. for 3 years, and this is my second year at Shoreline. I was an exchange student in Cleveland, Oklahoma during my first year in the U.S. During my high school exchange year, I joined an organization named Business Professional of America. This organization helps students build their leadership skills and promote many events bring contributions back to the community. I participated in many volunteering activities, such as helping sell food at the town food bank and holding activities at Special Oklahoma Olympic both winter and summer games.  

Coming to Shoreline has been a great experience for me! The time of living in the Residence Hall on campus helped shape my personality better. I was able to get involved in more events with the convenient access as living on campus and more activities held by Resident Assistants. I made a lot of new friends during my first quarter at Shoreline. While everyone’s life has been different since mid-March when the pandemic hit globally. I am grateful that we still have good access to online learning and interacting with others online in order to stay safe and health. To keep myself staying active and engaged, I have tried to find more opportunities, like applying on-campus jobs and volunteering online. I applied for the ASG (Associated Student Government) as well as the ISA (International Student Ambassador). I hope I can get to learn more and help others at the same time. 

In October, 2020, I signed up to volunteer at an organization called ReWA (Refugee Women’s Alliance). It is an organization created to help communities such as providing 10 wrap-around social services for every member of the family, from infant to senior in which they delivered in over 50 languages and dialects, are designed to make a long-lasting impact in others and help them thrive in the Puget Sound community. 

My position was to help people in the Vietnamese-American community in the voting process of the presidential election in November. I needed to spend at least 2-3 hour a week to answer phone calls and messages to direct people to the right place with explanation of what they need to do in Vietnamese. Sometimes I would feel overwhelmed with time management as taking four classes, preparing for university transfer applications, working as an ISA, spending time online with families and friends, plus volunteering! It was definitely challenging when I had 3-4 exams and labs during some weeks while volunteering. When I now look back the total amount of volunteering hours that I kept track of, I feel proud for this accomplishment of myself. I definitely think I made a good choice to volunteer even though my schedule was already a little busy. I got to step out of my comfort zone, challenge myself to reach higher, improve my time management skill, and I really enjoy learning new things!  

Student Blog Post: Tio “Aimee” Runtukahu, Indonesia

The following blog post was written by Tio “Aimee” Runtukahu, a current student from Indonesia who is a student worker in International Education. Read on to learn more about her time at Shoreline and her experience as a student worker!

Aimee is a student office assistant in International Education (IE).

I started working in the International Education (IE) Department in the Summer of 2020 as a student assistant to fellow international students. My position tasked me to help with the front desk during Express Advising. Moreover, creating small events and reaching out to new students during orientations. Since starting my position in IE, the campus has been fully online due to the pandemic. However, despite this, I am very grateful to have the chance to work in the office as it had allowed me to interact with many people daily.

My current project is creating an engaging short video for Shoreline students. Since we have been fully online, many international students have not met some of the current staff and student workers for so long. From my experience of going to Shoreline during its face-to-face operation from Fall 2019 to partial Winter 2020, the campus has had a very welcoming environment where everyone was so nice and friendly. Given that we no longer have the luxury to go to campus every day and meet with one another, having a video with lots of new and familiar faces would invite all current international students to keep on being engaged with the school. Hope you will enjoy this video!

Being a student at Shoreline is a very adventurous and exciting experience for me, and I believe for many of my other peers as well. The campus provides all students with the equal opportunity to gain more experiences. I took some of these opportunities to volunteer and work on campus and one of which is being a student assistant in the IE Department. What I love about working in the IE Department is how I got to keep on meeting new students and friends during the pandemic through working on campus before and now remotely. Moreover, I also got a lot of chances to show my creativity by hosting small online events for the college, like the Instagram Cooking Competition during the Summer!

It’s true that juggling a job while being a full-time student is challenging, and what makes working for Shoreline so enjoyable is the fact how everyone is so understanding and professional. Another thing that I would cherish from working in the IE Department is how I got to learn so much from everyone to be a part of a professional team and be more organized with my schedules and responsibilities.

Wanting to pursue my studies at Shoreline Community College meant that I had to leave my hometown Balikpapan, Indonesia to Seattle. It was not an easy experience to go through, however, meeting so many incredible fellow international students as well as American students had kept me away from feeling homesick. Aside from other Shoreline students, I had also found all the staff members, teachers, and other workers to be super kind and helpful. This welcoming and supportive environment has made me fall in love with Shoreline and made me very proud to be a part of it. Thus, as a current student worker, I am hoping to create that same atmosphere and environment for other international students!

Thank you, Aimee, for your hard work as an International Education Office Assistant! We are excited to see your video project when it is complete.

What It’s Like to Find a Job as an International Student on OPT

Hi, my name is Nick (Krittawat Pattaramekanon). I earned my Associate of Arts degree at Shoreline Community College. During my time at Shoreline, I was working as International Marketing Assistant and Photographer. It was a very good experience to meet new people from many places and cultures. I started my first quarter in Shoreline in Fall 2015 studying ESL and Music.

Nick stands at the far left with the staff at a Thai restaurant

I applied for Optional Practical Training (also known as OPT, which is a program that allows international students to work in the U.S. after they complete their studies at a U.S. college or university) around June of 2018 and it took around 4 months before the card actually arrived. So if you plan to get one, apply early! The academic and immigration advisors at Shoreline can help you going through the process and documents for applying. Also finding a job is not usually easy. It takes time and mostly you need to go to interview at the company. Other than my current job, I also applied for Photographer jobs in studios, and as a car enthusiast, I applied for a position as a “Car Photographer.” Other than regular job-finding sites, it’s also a good idea to check your local Facebook or social media groups.

Point of Sale system

Before graduating in Spring 2018, I found a job as Installer for a Thai company based in Lynnwood, Washington called SmilePOS. We do Point of Sale (POS) systems for (mostly Thai) restaurants. The job was posted in Thai Community of Washington State’s Facebook Group. I started working in November of 2018. This job requires travel a lot. What I am doing is traveling to the customer’s restaurants, discuss with them where/how they want the POS to be, Install the system, giving them training, take photos for the interior/food and the rest is free time to go out and explore!

So far I have been to almost 30 states, multiple cities and countless miles across the country. This is the best part of the job. More than half of these states are the ones I have not been to before. One of the most memorable trip was one to Moab, Utah. I had spent a night in Denver, CO because my flight was canceled. The next day, I got on a plane and the weather was so bad that we needed to land at Grand Junction, CO. One of the customer’s friends was there so they picked us up and took us to Moab in the middle of the night. That trip I get to explore Arches National Park in Utah and it is very beautiful. The states I went to the most are California, Florida, Oregon and Illinois. I was amazed how many Thai restaurants are there in this country, especially in Washington State.

Arches National Park in Utah

During the time that I am not travelling, I stay at the company designing gift cards, doing graphic design, editing photos, making video ads and some promotional materials. It is a good improvement for the company to have quality photos for use on our website and also the customers’ ones. On some occasions, the company has participated in volunteer and promotional work. Every year there are Thai Festivals at Buddhist Temples where restaurants bring out food for sale and there are cultural performances to watch. I usually attend and volunteer to take photos there.

I would like to thank Shoreline Community College, which gave me so many opportunities and has very helpful advisors. For current and future students, OPT is a good chance for you to experience the working culture in America to prepare you to work or continue your higher education. Apply for a work permit, find a job early, and good luck!

Words and photos by Krittawat Pattaramekanon

Editor’s note: By starting at a community college and earning an associate’s degree, students get an extra opportunity to work on OPT that they wouldn’t have if they completed an entire bachelor’s degree program at a 4-year university! Contact us at international@shoreline.edu to learn more!

How a Student from China Became a Volunteer at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle (and Why She Loves It!)

Yueheng Feng volunteers at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle

I’m Yueheng Feng, an international student from China studying at Shoreline Community College. Five months ago, when I just arrived in Seattle, I was excited and eager to try to adapt to this new environment as quickly as possible. I wanted to get involved not just on campus with different activities but also in the community to expand my social circles. Luckily, I learned about volunteering at the Pacific Science Center from our China Specialist, Ms. Linda Du. She told me about what it is like to volunteer there and encouraged me to apply for it. Of course I would try it because I have always loved exploring in the science centers and I enjoy the chance to help others.

Pacific Science Center in Seattle, WA Photo by Ron Clausen [CC BY-SA 4.0]

Very soon after submitting my application, I received an email for the volunteer interview. It was a group interview, which was not as intimidating as I thought. It was just an opportunity for us to meet the Volunteer Coordinators and get to know each other because we might volunteer together in the future. Some of the questions asked at the interview were difficult for me to understand in the beginning, but I tried my best to be brave in a group setting, shared my opinions and expressed myself in English. When I didn’t understand a question, I listened to others and then tried to figure out what the question was asking for. If I still couldn’t understand the question, I just asked the staff and they would ask me again in an easier way. I passed the interview and completed the New Volunteer Orientation in November! By now, I have volunteered as a Guest Ambassador for more than 20 hours. Because of a temporary change with this particular volunteer program, I just re-applied and became a Tinker Tank volunteer recently.

     Before I started volunteering at Pacific Science Center, some friends told me that it would not be easy to be a volunteer there. Even many university students and local high school students want to volunteer there, and I just started learning ESL at that time. I think being confident in myself is very important. I know this is out of my comfort zone and I still need to keep improving myself, but I know I can do this better and better!   

     The Pacific Science Center is located in Seattle Center next to the Space Needle. It takes me about one hour to get there by bus. Volunteers can get bus passes for commuting there. Whenever I’m not too busy with school, I sign up for volunteering shifts. Being a volunteer there is very interesting and fun. I like to engage with guests by asking them questions to start the interaction. There are also many free cookies, candies and chocolates for volunteers. I can also grab a hot beverage for free as another volunteer benefit. Of course the meaningful experience of being a volunteer is way beyond this. People at the Pacific Science Center are very friendly. Other staff and volunteers would help me when I don’t know the answers.

     The Pacific Science Center is a great place. If you want to be a volunteer, you should go there and try! I would regret if I didn’t sign up to be a volunteer there!

To learn more about different volunteer opportunities and apply online, just go to: www.pacificsciencecenter.org/volunteers/

Why 2 Thai Students Fell for Shoreline

IT 1

Hello, my name is Thirachet Lapjaturapit or I/T. I am an 18-year-old student at Shoreline Community College majoring in Film Production and I am working as an International Student Ambassador for the International Education department. There are multiple International Student Ambassadors working on campus and duties vary for each one of us. I have a specific job as a photographer; I produce media for the department such as short introduction videos, interview videos, and taking photos of events around campus.

Tisa 2

Hi, I’m Tisa Somsap. I am also an 18-year-old student at Shoreline Community College majoring in Humanities. My job in the International Education department is quite different from I/T; I’m an International Peer Mentor. International Peer Mentors work in a team of 8. We connect new and current students with the International Education department as well as assisting the department staff members from time to time. Throughout the academic year, we organize events and activities such as International Student Orientation and school parties.

IT 2

I/T: I had no experience studying abroad before coming to Shoreline Community College. I remember thinking that this campus scenery is very breezy: the greenery, the design, it feels very comfortable. I have my own YouTube channel (IT’s Films) and I could imagine myself walking around filming a campus tour video at that point. I met many friends from various countries through International Student Orientation.

My fall quarter classes were ESL classes. They were honestly challenging for me; however, with the help of skilled teachers and the activities in class, I was able to improve. I have an opportunity to meet and connect with plenty of photographers outside of campus once in a while, and it makes my experience in Shoreline even better.

Tips from I/T: Stay true to yourself. Do not settle until it feels right. If you’re not certain about your interests, join clubs, make some friends, put yourself out there. Try something new to discover what’s the best fit for you.

Tisa 1

Tisa: My first impression of Shoreline Community College is similar to I/T’s. I noticed the trees and the unique buildings right away. I went to school in New Orleans before as a high school exchange student and it’s safe to say that Southern American culture is much different from Northwestern American culture, so I still had a little culture shock coming here. However, International Student Orientation gave me a great sense in what to expect from this community.

My classes in the first quarter consisted of English Composition I, Introduction to Communication, and Survey of Anthropology. They were very challenging, and I had to really step out of my comfort zone. After that quarter, I saw an instant growth in myself. I stopped doubting my potential but rather doubting my limits instead. I made the best out of the quarter by trying to socialize a lot with my classmates; now they are the group of friends I hang out with daily.

Tips from Tisa: Explore yourself and the environment around you thoroughly, whether that is the school or the city. Remember to always challenge yourself in order to see your full potential.

How a Student from Kazakhstan Came to Shoreline at 16, Earned a UW Degree, and Got a Job at T-Mobile Headquarters

I was 16 years old when I started at Shoreline Community College in the High School Completion Program.This program allowed me to work on finishing my high school diploma and begin my college-level studies at the same time.  During my time at Shoreline, I was a math tutor and an International Peer Mentor, which allowed me to meet international students from all over the world, who would eventually become lifelong friends.

aigerim

When I started applying to four-year universities, the advisors at Shoreline encouraged me to apply to schools that I never thought I would get into.  Through their support and encouragement, I was accepted into engineering programs at Purdue, Georgia Tech, Arizona State, and University of Washington.  I chose to attend the University of Washington, where I interned with Synapse Product Development, Inc. in downtown Seattle. Even though the classes at UW were more difficult, my classes at Shoreline taught me study habits that helped prepare me for the academic rigor.

I am currently working at the T-Mobile Headquarters as an Associate Engineer – Systems Designs, where I test mobile devices for liability issues on the T-Mobile network.  Eventually, I would like to attend Cornell University for my master’s degree.  Looking back, I wouldn’t be where I am today without Shoreline.  Shoreline helped me grow personally and academically, and ultimately helped me believe in myself.  It also provided me the opportunity to transition into U.S. culture and get to know the Seattle area, which now I call home.

If you’re looking for friendly and supportive faculty, a beautiful campus, and great university transfer options, definitely check out Shoreline!

Aigerim Shintemirova
Almaty, Kazakhstan