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Former International Student extends the benefits of studying abroad to a new York College student

April 06, 2021
An Undeclared international student holding the Ecuador flag with his host who also works at York College

Ines Ramirez ‘97/MBA ‘07, the Assistant Director of Intercultural Life at York College, was once a Rotary Exchange Student from Ecuador, living in York and attending classes at York College of Pennsylvania. Today, she is host to Adrian Arguello, who also grew up in Ecuador.

Adrian Arguello ’24 is most looking forward to getting his driver’s license. The 18-year-old international student from Ecuador knows that behind the wheel, he can hop on the interstate and within a couple of hours be in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, or New York City.

“There are so many things I’m excited to explore and learn about,” he says. “I feel I’ve learned a lot already, so I’m looking forward to expanding on that.”

Studying abroad seemed like a lost dream for Arguello when COVID-19 canceled most opportunities. He was supposed to be in Belgium this spring. Instead, he unpacked his bags in York, Pennsylvania. Here, he found a chance to stay with his distant relative, Ines Ramirez. She was also once an international student from Ecuador.

“It makes you realize there is a world out there, and it can be so different from where you are from,” Ramirez says. “Once you travel, you get the travel bug that makes you want to learn more about people and other places. It was an experience that changed my life for the better.”

Finding home at York College

Ramirez came to York in 1992, where she spent a year at York Country Day School, hosted by members of the Rotary Club of York. She and her three sisters had all been exchange students, and her own parents hosted international students, giving them a unique exposure to new cultures at an early age.

She had heard a lot about York College, and when she returned to Ecuador to start university, she decided she wanted to come back to the York community. She would graduate from York College with a degree in Mass Communication in 1997 and later in 2007 earn her MBA. After working in TV news for a year, she was hired by York College, first as a Language Coordinator and now as the Assistant Director of Intercultural Student Life.

“I always felt like I had family at York College,” she says. “I had faculty members that knew who I was, knew my name, and that was really important to me. I did not want to get lost in the crowd.”

It was during her three years studying abroad that she realized she’d learned a lot in textbooks, but it didn’t compare to the real thing. She learned a lot of English slang in the cafeteria at York Country Day School. And experiencing the weather, food, and other cultural practices were all unique in their own ways.

Extending the welcome

Since arriving at York College in January 2021, Arguello has been busy balancing a full class load while working in the dining hall. He’s currently Undeclared, but he sees a strong future with a Business degree. Right now, he’s living with Ramirez and her family. He hopes he can move into a dorm eventually.

While COVID-19 has kept him from visiting many places, he’s enjoying the York College campus, has visited downtown York, and has received his share of help from the York College Writing Center.

“A lot of the administrators here have tried to help me in whatever way possible,” he says. “They notice my accent, but they don’t mind. I don’t feel uncomfortable about it because they have done everything to make me feel welcome.”

Ramirez is also enjoying having a young student staying with her family, giving her daughter a chance to learn about Ecuador while seeing that discovery through Arguello’s eyes. “Opening your doors to an exchange student is beneficial for them, but it also brings so much to your own family,” she says. “I hope other people have the opportunity to experience that wonder and curiosity that an international student can teach you.”