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The Trinity Voice

The student news site of Trinity Preparatory School

The Trinity Voice

The student news site of Trinity Preparatory School

The Trinity Voice

International Students Overcome COVID Boundaries

Ninth-grader Jennifer Li is an international student who arrived last year, after experiencing troubles with travelling to Trinity during the pandemic.

   Before the pandemic, Trinity had one or two international students. In the 2021-2022 school year, that number has risen to 21 students from other countries. The sudden increase in exchange students is a result of families moving to Florida and changes in exchange programs.

   Trinity has partnered with different programs over the years to accept international students. One of the well-known organizations is ASSIST. According to, it is a non-profit organization that matches multilingual students with independent American secondary schools. ASSIST students stay in the country for one year and usually arrive on scholarship. In the past, Trinity has worked with TBI New Oasis in China but has now moved on since programs have been fizzling out due to COVID. Ever since Trinity has shifted its focus from recruiting more exchange students to attracting longer-term international students. Director of International Student Affairs and Assistant Director of Admissions Victoria Johnston has seen the switch in behavior because of the pandemic.

   “More [international students] are apt to register for school through Trinity,” Johnston said. “We’ve had the ability to do that more this year.”

   Trinity can register students directly since students have chosen to move with their families into the state instead of staying with a host family. According to Johnston, some international students now have dual citizenship and look to attend school to graduate in the United States. Trinity has shifted its focus from recruiting more exchange students to attracting longer-term international students during the pandemic. 

   The application process for international students starts with the regular admissions process. Then, they take a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam if they are not already fluent in English. 

   Prior to stepping on a plane, there are struggles with paperwork. Johnston has noted how there were concerns if the students could even enter the country if they were outside during the pandemic. Ninth-grader Jennifer Li had issues with flights and travel when she moved from Canada.

   “When I first came here, I was on a visitor’s visa for five months,” Li said. “Until we got stuck in Mexico, and that’s when we got my student visa to come back to America.”

   Even before COVID-19, the process of traveling overseas for education has never been easy. International Student Liaison Bozena Lawson experienced struggles herself with staying in a new country first hand after growing up in Poland and coming to the United States to teach Latin. 

   “Getting used to a country, it takes time,” Lawson said. “You learn about it: the languages, the accents, cultural customs…and everything [else].”

   Many countries shut down their borders during the pandemic, which created further roadblocks for Trinity and exchange students alike.

   “It was a problem getting flights here on time because a lot of flights were canceled or delayed,” Lawson said. 

   The pandemic has not deterred Trinity or international students, but the school is working harder to provide safe travel for students. According to Li, her troubles in the airport and Mexico were alleviated by Trinity’s diligence with responding to emails and sending important documents.

   Travel is not the only source of difficulty for international students, as getting used to a new environment is also difficult. Li experienced challenges with school life when she arrived.

   “Canvas was hard to figure out,” Li said. “And the homework, it was all really hard to figure out.”

   However, the assistance of teachers made her adjustment process easier.

   “If I missed homework…most of the time they were okay [with it].”

   Interacting with other students helped Li to acclimate and open up to others.

   “As the year progressed,” Li said. “I was able to get in contact with other international students, and it was fun learning from them and their first experience.”

   Although Li did not participate in extracurricular activities at first, getting involved with different groups introduced her to more people.

   “This year when I joined golf and other clubs,” Li said. “I was able to get to know more people and they were able to teach me a lot about high school, which was really useful.”

   The increase of international students this year is only the beginning. Johnston expects the population of international students will remain steady going forward.

   “Our international students are global citizens, our students with multiple citizenships really do bring something to the table in terms of diversity and global citizenship,” Johnston said.

   Trinity has almost met its international student goals, but Johnston and administrators are always looking for ways to increase global citizenship in the community.

   “So what will it look like? I think only [20]22, [20]23 can tell,” Johnston said. “But our goals in the administration office would always be to bring in nice students that are a fit, that bring something to the community.”

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About the Contributor
Iris Lei, Business Manager
Iris Lei is a junior entering her third year on staff as the Business Manager and Lifestyles staff writer. She enjoys knitting, playing with her dog and traveling to other states with actual seasons. Contact her at [email protected].

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