Tai Thai is wrapping up his time at Northampton Community College and is about to embark on a new journey to finish his bachelor's degree at Temple University. His whole story, however, is a tale of many journeys. Thai is originally from Vietnam and, along with his twin sister, was sent to the United States to pursue an education they couldn't get at home. He attended high school in Maine and then, like many international students, found out about NCC via the Internet.
"The reason I decided to come to NCC is because I saw that there were so many majors that I could choose from, and I was interested in business. I came here for business administration, and in my future I'm going to be pursuing a bachelor's degree in business management," says Thai. "I'm hoping that during that time is when I figure out what it is what I'm really interested in and what I want to do with my degree."
Thai began learning the English language at the age of 13, but taking part in the English as a Second Language (ESL) program upon his enrollment at NCC provided him with the ability to immerse himself in the culture here while also sharing his own culture with others. Living in the dorms with other international students, taking part in the International Student Organization (ISO) and working part-time in the International Education office has also allowed him to get to know new people from many different parts of the world.
"I've enjoyed getting to meet new people every day who are from different cultures. My first impression of NCC is that people here are very nice and friendly. It's a great school for people who are just starting college, and I've always wished that NCC was a four-year school," says Thai. "The area is beautiful and the staff has been very helpful. I've learned here how to balance and divide my time, also. It's not about being easy. It's about what you learn."
One of the perks of being part of the ISO is that the club takes trips throughout each academic year to nearby cities such as Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City, and Baltimore. Thai enjoyed all of those experiences, particularly because it's been difficult for him to go home to see his family during his time as a college student. He's hopeful that they'll be able to visit here for his eventual graduation so that they can see what his experience has been like.
"I'm never sure how to answer when people here ask me what it's been like to come from another country," says Thai. "Culture is not difficult as long as we all understand each other."