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Indonesian Recruitment Efforts Bring 17 Students to York College Campus

November 22, 2023
Indonesian Student Experience

The students arrived on campus in August after York College was chosen to participate in an Indonesian scholarship program.

Christian DiGregorio, York College of Pennsylvania’s Director of International Recruitment, had traveled overseas and was sitting at a table with members of the Indonesian Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA). It was the month of Ramadan, and the participants awaited sunset to break the daily fast required during the Islamic observance.

As the group talked, DiGregorio showcased various projects that York College students were involved in, ranging from stock trading to building race cars and radiotelescopes.

This hands-on approach to higher education resonated with the ministry’s members, and they recognized the potential benefits for their country’s students. By the time DiGregorio left Indonesia, a connection had been forged and plans begun to include York College in the inaugural MoRA Overseas Student Mobility Awards (MOSMA).

In August 2023, MOSMA came to fruition as the first 17 students from Indonesia arrived to spend a semester studying at York College.

Educational and transformational

The students are fully funded through a scholarship from the Indonesian Ministry of Religious Affairs. Through the program, part of the College’s Global Learning Initiative, the institution is having an impact on education internationally. This venture goes beyond merely bringing students to York College; it aims to create a welcoming and comfortable environment for them, foster cultural exchange, and provide unique educational experiences.

With its commitment to project-based learning and an exceptional support system for visiting students, York College intends to make the semester not only educational but transformational for its Indonesian guests. 

“I think a lot of people say they do experiential learning. We really do experiential learning,” DiGregorio says.

Indonesia has a rigorous selection process for MOSMA. It begins with 500 to 600 third-year university students and narrows the number to fewer than 70, who will attend one of six institutions: Columbia University, Rochester Institute of Technology, the State University of New York at Buffalo, Temple University, the University of Rhode Island, and York College.

York College welcomed students from a variety of majors, including International Relations, Business, Political Science, and Psychology. As they arrived in the United States, DiGregorio and York College faculty and staff members welcomed them and assisted them from the moment they landed at the airport. Knowing that they were here only for a semester, the College provided them with essentials such as pillows, blankets, toiletries, and gift bags. The College’s Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion ensured that they had access to prayer rugs and knew the location of the prayer room on campus. The campus dining hall agreed to offer Halal options for the Muslim students and asked the students for food recommendations.

An academic and cultural experience

In addition to academics, the program emphasizes cultural exchange and integration. DiGregorio notes that the enthusiasm of York College students in welcoming the Indonesian visitors has been heartwarming. The foreign students have been met with curiosity and open-mindedness, and their interaction with American students is encouraging a deep cultural exchange.

“The students themselves, the current York students, are very welcoming and very curious,” DiGregorio says. “On the first day I was showing (the visitors) the shuttle bus system, whenever we were on the bus, students would ask where they were from and what it was like living there.”

DiGregorio looks forward to an expansion of MOSMA at York College and hopes to host another group of Indonesian students in 2024. There also is the potential for collaboration with the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs, which could bring more students from schools across Indonesia to York College.

MOSMA is not just an educational opportunity; it’s a celebration of cultural diversity and experiential learning. The program offers an exceptional educational experience and creates a welcoming environment that fosters global understanding and cultural exchange, helping to make the world more connected.

“I think York College being chosen for this program shows the quality of the academics here and the way we take care of our students,” DiGregorio says. “I think those are the two biggest things that often get overlooked. It’s not by a fluke that York was chosen. You get some really good academics here and some really great experiences as a student.”