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Foreign exchange students set to expand culture at Dickinson State

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As students begin to file into town with the first days of classes on the horizon, Dickinson State University will welcome 11 foreign exchange students ranging from five different countries for the fall semester.

With many of them making their maiden voyage to the United States, the students are selected from a large, competitive pool of candidates. While attending DSU, they will also serve as cultural ambassadors as they are required to participate in community service and university activities.

The list of foreign exchange students studying abroad at Dickinson State University in the fall are Hye Jin Kim, Soyeon An, Junghee Kim, and Sehui Eom of South Korea, Rija Nazir, Maryam Zahid, and Arslan Khowaja of Pakistan, Rayra Cardinale Arashiro Pinto and Ayaka Ito of Japan, Dhia Rzig of Tunisia and Gerrit Koelling of Germany.

"I think these exchange programs provide a great opportunity for exchange between individuals who may have never had the opportunity to meet someone else from that culture and to learn from each other," said Amy Rassier, DSU International Student Service coordinator and recruiter.

Zahid is sponsored by the Global Undergraduate Exchange Program of Pakistan implemented by the International Research and Exchanges Board, a global non-profit education and global development entity. As one of 100 students selected out of a pool of nearly 10,000 applicants to attend an U.S. host university, Zahid is ecstatic with the opportunity.

"I am proud to be a UGRAD student and am thrilled to be going at Dickinson State University, this fall," Zahid said. "I look forward to perusing the amazing places.

"Moreover, I am excited to learn about different languages from people coming with different backgrounds, immersing myself in culture and history, diving into the challenges and experiences that come with traveling abroad and having once-in-a-lifetime experiences."

Dickinson State University works to link each student with a friendship family. While the student will still reside on campus and only have to visit with their friendship family a couple times a month, the pairing provides an chance to share cultures by attending local events and celebrating holidays together.

Zian Imran, also of Pakistan, had nothing but positive things to say about his experience as a foreign exchange student at DSU last year, specifically discussing his time with his friendship family, Margaret and Larry Marcusen.

"I still remember the evenings we spent at Margaret's and Larry's place," Imran said. "They were filled with laughter, cooking, good food, board games and some singing and playing the piano. They were one of my fondest memories of my life in Dickinson.

"I can't recall the number of times Margaret proved to be a savior when she would drop us to the airport in bad weather. Or take us grocery shopping to the Walmart knowing we had no transport of our own. It was in Margaret and Larry that I found the unexpected sense of belonging to the town I now call home."

For more information on becoming a friendship family, contact the International Programs Office at 701-483-2322 or email Amy Rassier at

Patrick Bernadeau

Patrick Bernadeau is a sports reporter for the Dickinson Press. He can be reached at his office number (701) 456-1211 or email him at Joining the Dickinson Press in July 2017, he was previously a freelance sports writer for Treasure Coast Newspapers ( in Stuart, FL as well as carrying bylines from the Associated Press, Miami Herald, Orlando Sentinel, Florida Today and Naples Daily News. Prior to his move to Dickinson, he resided in Port St. Lucie, FL, earning a Bachelor's Degree from Florida Atlantic University. Patrick was born and raised in Brockton, Mass and is an avid Boston sports fan. Born to Haitian parents, Patrick's favorite meal is Griot with Banana Peze, Pikliz (Fried pork with smashed plaintains and a spicy vegetable relish) and a tall glass of Cherry Coke.

(701) 456-1211