Marist is well-known for being a school with a great study abroad program. In fact, it was ranked seventh on Princeton Review's "Top 20" list for the "most popular study abroad program," and nearly half of Marist's student body studies abroad.
However, what some students may not know is that Marist is also a place where many actual international students come to study abroad.
According to the Institute of International Education's 2012 Open Door Report, the number of international students in the U.S increased to 32 percent since 2001 and is at a record high of 723,277 students. 78,888 of those students are studying at colleges and universities in New York, making New York the second most popular state for international students to study in after California.
The man behind Marist's international recruitment process is Joe Giacalone, the Director of International Admission and Recruitment. Giacalone, travels all over the world, visiting various high schools to talk to students about Marist.
"Joe Giacalone has done an amazing job establishing partnerships with international high schools to help spread the Marist name to parts of the world I never could've imagined," said Kelsey Donohue, a senior and the President of the Ambassador Program. "Everyday Joe is off traveling from the Middle East to Asia to Switzerland to Italy- it's incredible what he has been able to do since taking over international recruitment."
What draws international students to Marist are many of the same things that draw American student to Marist. Giacalone said that the main reasons are the college's proximity to the city, its internship programs, the class offerings, and most importantly, the community and family atmosphere that the college has.
Parikshit (Pari) Das, a freshman from India, has gone to school in numerous countries before coming to Marist in the fall. While attending high school in Shanghai, he met Joe Giacalone and talked to him about attending Marist.
"Something just clicked and I decided to apply," said Das. "My guidance counselors and my teachers had all heard of Marist and strongly recommended it to me."
For Das, coming to Marist was a chance to start over and experience a new learning environment.
"I came to Marist because I wanted somewhere that no one knew me yet," said Das. "I wanted a fresh start in a small college where my professors would actually get to know me, and somewhere I could really grow into a responsible and mature young adult. Back home in India, the system in China values nothing but grades and that wasn't me."
Das is one of many international students who chose to study at Marist over a school in their native country.
"Although I was offered to go to Sorbonne for free, I had to have a college experience with life on campus," said Lily Masco, a sophomore from Paris, France. "There is no such thing in France. I choose Marist for many reasons: huge selection of classes and majors, small classes, great study abroad programs, and I fell in love with the campus."
While the transition from one's native country to Poughkeepsie can be a hard one, most international students find the transition relatively seamless.
"I've moved around so much that Poughkeepsie already feels like home to me," said Das. "I've made incredible friends, and everyone's been so great to me to minimize the difficulty of moving literally across the planet. So I'm having a fantastic time."
Donohue, who works as a tour guide for the school and has given many tours to international families, says that it is Marist's tight-knit community that makes it easy for international students to feel at home here.
"We are a very welcoming and supportive community which helps students transition not only from local areas but from all over the world," said Donohue. "It is necessary for international students to be reassured that they have the support from students, faculty and on campus offices like First Year Programs and Center for Multicultural Affairs"
Studying in a foreign country has many benefits for the students that come to Marist, but their presence is also very beneficial for the Marist community.
"We want Marist students to be global citizens," said Giacalone. "By having international students in the classroom it gives students the opportunity to have more robust conversations and get a more worldly perspective on different topics."
While the percentage of international students is still quite small compared to American students who attend Marist, the number is rising as Giacalone and other Marist alumni help to spread Marist's mission world-wide.