Avionics News May 2012 - 62
B Y T H O M A S I N M A N
Overcoming Challenges on Path to Success
magine the challenge of traveling to another country where you barely speak the language. Once there, you deal with the culture differences, learn a highly complex technical skill and master technical jargon. Now, imagine you are sponsored, and your sponsor has high expectations. Do you think you would accept this challenge? If you accepted it, would you be successful? These challenges are a way of life for the many international students in my classes. In the 1980s, Saudia Air-
lines sent hundreds of students to learn aviation maintenance technology. Indirectly, these students were the reason I changed careers. The community college where I began my teaching career needed someone to teach remediative avionics courses. Later, I stepped in to replace the professor, who left for another position. The difference between Arabian and American culture is great, to say the least. Most of these students had a mere six weeks of language education before being plunked into a college set-
ting. This was a rough situation for both students and instructors. Still, some of those Saudia employees went on to make their old professor proud. Others remained with Saudia, but not as aviation technicians. For some, the pressure was just too much. They dropped out and found themselves on a flight back to Saudi Arabia, where they got fired. Others seemed to take the pressure in stride. In any case, their mission was not easy. My life has been enriched by international students. I remain in touch with many of these students, thanks to Facebook and email. Prior to attending the AEA International Convention & Trade Show one year, I travelled to Paris, France, and visited a student – now a friend – who completed an international business internship near Williamsport, Penn. She speaks several languages and now runs a massage therapy business, while taking care of her new baby. My life is richer, thanks to Geraldine. Years ago, when Mode S was a new rule and hardly anyone understood the technology, a student from Bulgaria stayed after class to learn the details. For a while, he practically lived in the avionics lab, studying both user and maintenance manuals for the brand new test equipment and new transponders.