Is being a ESL student a problem to create a community at BMCC? What are the programs and resources that can help? In this podcast episode, Luis Garcia, a Psychology major from Honduras, shares about how BMCC supported him in improving his English proficiency and how he managed to avoid isolation by using campus resources.
Check out more information about the resources that Luis recommends in his interview:
WELCOME TO STUDENT VOICES, A PODCAST THAT PRESENTS INSPIRING STORIES OF BMCC STUDENTS. THIS SEASON, WE ARE LAUNCHING A SERIES OF INTERVIEWS ABOUT THE CHALLENGES IN DEVELOPING A SENSE OF BELONGING AND CREATING A COMMUNITY AS A BMCC STUDENT. IN THIS EPISODE, IQRA SHEIK, FROM THE OPENLAB TEAM, INTERVIEWS LUIS GARCIA, A STUDENT FROM HONDURAS THAT JOINED BMCC TO STUDY PSYCHOLOGY.
IN THIS INTERVIEW, LUÍS GARCIA SHARES ABOUT HOW BMCC SUPPORTED HIM IN IMPROVING HIS ENGLISH PROFICIENCY AND HOW HE MANAGED TO AVOID ISOLATION BY USING CAMPUS RESOURCES.
NO MORE OF ME TALKING. LET’S GO TO LUIS’ STORY.
Iqra: I am going to do a quick introduction. My name is Iqra. I am the Student Outreach College Assistant for the Openlab. I am here with…? You can introduce yourself.
Luis: Hi, my name is Luis, Luis Garcia. Some people call me Lucio, that means Luis in so many countries in Latin America, and my major is Psychology and, yeah, I really like this major.
Iqra: Nice. Cool. So, yeah, I’m going to get started with the questions. So, why BMCC? Why did you choose this school out of all the CUNY’s?
Luis: Well, I remember I started to go to BRONX community College in 2020, in the beginning of 2020, and than the pandemic came, everything closed, so it was hard to continue learning English, all this stuff. And then I got an email from BMCC where it said I could be part of this college, so I applied and here I am.
Iqra: Yeah that’s cool. The next question that I had is, “do you feel connected to the school? Like, do you have a routine here? Like, do you just come to school or do you do other things at school? Are you part of any projects or student clubs that you are involved in? Do you have your group of friends that you can just come to, when you come to school? Or do you feel isolated, do you just come to school to come to school?
Luis: Well I remember my first semester was…I was kinda isolated because I didn’t know almost anyone. I’m gonna be honest, I’m super shy at talking to people. At the half of the semester, the last semester, I started to talk to more people during my free time and go talk to them and have a good time. Also I go to the gym here. There’s a fitness center here.
Iqra: Oh Yeah. That can be fun.
Luis: Yeah it is…it is.
Iqra: I used to go to the gym here and it is so cool. Because it’s like downstairs on the same floor as the pools, you know? And the basketball courts. Yeah. When I used to go to BMCC, my favorite spot was to go to the gym. I also was very alone here, I felt isolated but, there were things that I used like the library, or the gym, or the writing center. So, when did you transfer to BMCC? Like, when did you come here?
Luis: Well, my first semester here at campus was last year, in the fall semester of last year, as I went to CLIP in 2021, in Fall.
Iqra: What’s CLIP?
Luis: CLIP is a language program to improve the English, to improve writing, reading, and critical thinking in English. So, I went there for two semesters, Fall 2021 and Spring 2022. So the instructor helped me learn my English, so..
Iqra: In order to come to BMCC. Yeah. My friend Danny, well, Chang Min, he was a foreign student from Korea and he did Kingsborough, but he had to do this language part of KIngsborough in order to begin his associates. Yeah, I feel like that was brutal to
do that because you don’t get any credits for doing that, right?
Luis: Yeah, you don’t get any credits.
Iqra: But I guess you are gaining something by learning the language, you know? Like, you get to just enhance it more? You know? Which is good because it can probably help you. I have spoken English my whole life and I am still terrible at it. [LAUGHTER]
CLIP STANDS FOR CUNY LANGUAGE IMMERSION PROGRAM, AND THEY OFFER ESL STUDENTS INTENSIVE INSTRUCTION IN ALL ENGLISH SKILLS. AS LUIS MENTIONED, THEY HELP IN READING AND WRITING, AND THEIR GOAL IS TO HELP STUDENTS GET PREPARED FOR CREDIT-BEARING COLLEGE COURSES. BMCC CLIP CLASSES ARE LOCATED HARLEM.
THE REQUIREMENTS TO ATTEND CLIP ARE:
BEING A FRESHMAN OR TRANSFER STUDENT FROM BMCC (OR FROM ANOTHER CUNY COLLEGE) WHO DIDN’T PASS THE CUNY TESTS BECAUSE ENGLISH IS NOT YOUR FIRST LANGUAGE;
AND HAVING A RECOMMENDATION FROM THE ESL DEPARTMENT OR FROM A COUNSELOR.
IF YOU ARE AN INTERNATIONAL STUDENT WITH A STUDENT VISA, YOU MUST GO TO THE BLIIS PROGRAM INSTEAD, WHICH STANDS FOR BMCC LANGUAGE IMMERSION FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS.
Iqra: So, are there any changes that you’d like to see here at BMCC?
Luis: Probably…when they do events…
Iqra: You want there to be more events here?
Luis: No, like, when they do events, they do it at the same time. Like, when they do an event… let’s say there’s an event at 2pm here at the Main Building and in the Murray and there’s probably something going on in Fitterman…. It’s kind of hard…
Iqra: You want there to be more events or you don’t?
Luis: I would like to have events but at the same time. Like, but to schedule it in.
Iqra: Oh, yeah, because they cram it in. Yeah, like club crawl…and, yeah…well, Wednesdays there are the club hours.
Iqra: So, okay, one last remark to make BMCC a better college is to not have all the events at one same day. There’s just too much to handle like that. Ah, ok, so, thank you so much for your time, Luis. It was a pleasure. I’m glad that you wanted to do this because, you know, you said earlier that it was hard to meet people, but, you know, you are doing this, and this is pretty bouldzy. You know, like, you are getting out to this isolation, and you are participating. You are doing as much as you can.
IN THIS INTERVIEW, LUIS OVERCAME HIS SHYNESS AND TALKED ABOUT HIS CHALLENGES IN CREATING A COMMUNITY AT BMCC AS AN INTERNATIONAL STUDENT AND ENGLISH LEARNER. HE ALSO POINTED OUT THAT TAKING ADVANTAGE OF SOME OF THE CAMPUS RESOURCES, SUCH AS THE FITNESS CENTER, IS A GOOD WAY TO MAKE FRIENDS, RELAX AND HAVE A GOOD TIME.
FURTHERMORE, HE SHARED THAT HAVING DIFFICULTIES IN CREATING A COMMUNITY IS NOT DUE TO THE LACK OF EVENTS. ON THE CONTRARY, BMCC OFFERS MANY EVENTS, BUT SOMETIMES THEY OVERLAP, WHICH MAKES IT DIFFICULT FOR STUDENTS TO CHOOSE WHICH ONE THEY SHOULD ATTEND. THIS COMMENT PROVIDES A VALUABLE INSIGHT FOR DEPARTMENTS AND PROGRAMS TO IMPROVE THEIR COMMUNICATION AND PLANNING.
THIS EPISODE IS PART OF OUR PODCAST SERIES ABOUT THE CHALLENGES IN DEVELOPING A SENSE OF BELONGING AND CREATING A COMMUNITY AS A BMCC STUDENT. THANK YOU FOR LISTENING TO THIS INTERVIEW, AND PLEASE SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH US. YOU ARE ALSO INVITED TO SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES IN THIS PODCAST. YOUR VOICE IS IMPORTANT.
I AM RAQUEL NERIS FROM THE OPENLAB TEAM, AND I WILL SEE YOU IN THE NEXT EPISODE OF THE STUDENT VOICES PODCAST.