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Travel around the world with our international students

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Nov 13, 2020

Did you know College of Lake County (CLC) typically hosts about 100 international students from approximately 40 different countries every year? Global students have attended the college for more than two decades. With them comes their language, culture and financial investment. Last year these students, at CLC alone, directly supported 19 jobs and had a $3.3 million impact in Lake County.

“That’s because they’re paying tuition, going grocery shopping, buying cars, going out to movies and renting apartments. The economic input from this group is definitely something to be celebrated,” said Jacob Cushing, director of CLC’s center for international education.

Study Abroad in ChinaOne of the ways these students are celebrated is the national annual International Education Week, running Nov. 16-20, with a variety of virtual events. The designation was first created by the U.S. State Department in 2000 as an effort to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment, and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn and exchange experiences. Today, it is celebrated in more than 100 countries. CLC embraced the week more than a decade ago and international students like Sangguen (Ben) Lee, believe it has made a difference.

Photo: A group of CLC students on a study abroad trip to China.

“I like the dedication of CLC towards their students. They are always supportive and try to help students with whatever they need,” said Lee. “I like the classes being active. I feel freer to say something and participate without hesitation.”

Lee is studying computer information technology and first enrolled at CLC in 2018 to better his English and learn about U.S. culture. He is from South Korea and heard about the experience at the college from someone he knows. When asked what his family and friends back home think of his international studies he said, “My family assumes I am suffering from the different culture, lack of foods, friends, communication and safety. And, of course, that is not true. My friends assume I am having fun, which is true.”

More fun is in store for Lee and the Lake County community. Most International Education Week festivities are open to the public and include cooking videos of home country cuisine, cultural presentations, 20 questions with different students, a virtual tour of languages and a film screening which Lee is particularly excited about.

“Film represents their culture that helps me to understand the way of their thoughts and perspective,” said Lee.

While the week’s events is filled with fun and captivating content, for Cushing it’s really about the bigger picture.

“We live in a very globally connected society and CLC wants to graduate students to be successful in an ever-changing global environment,” Cushing said. “One of the ways we do that is to bring students from other countries, cultures and backgrounds on campus and in classes with our students.”

And it’s not just CLC and the U.S. that benefit. One of the college’s longest standing partners, Ehime University in Matsuyama, Japan, has also experienced the positive impact of exchanging of students.

“I can honestly say the CLC study program for Ehime University literally changed the lives of many of our students,” said Ruth Vergin in the office of international planning at Ehime University. “Our students are always impressed by how hard CLC students study, and return inspired to be more active in class. I see how both programs develop and improve through our close relationship.”

“It’s really important CLC stays invested in promoting these experiences as a way for people to grow their global mindsets,” said Cushing.

About College of Lake County:

College of Lake County is a comprehensive community college committed to equitable high-quality education, cultural enrichment and partnerships to advance the diverse communities it serves in northeastern Illinois. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, college classes are affordable and accessible to help each student achieve academic, career and personal goals. More than 70,000 students graduated with degrees and certificates since the college opened in 1969. The College of Lake County is the only higher-education institution ranked among the top 15 best places to work in Illinois by Forbes and is a national leader in many areas, including sustainability and conservation. Learn more at or call (847) 543-2000.