Avionics News May 2012 - 63
For any person teaching an international student, think of the challenges, and ask yourself a question. Could I step into another country, with odd weather, an incomprehensible language, unusual food and strange customs, and then excel as a student in a highly technical field?
I learned Mode S transponder basics from this student. Later, in Olathe, Kan., I took a KT 70 certification course. When the instructor began talking about the downlink, I knew he had downlinks and uplinks reversed. Bravely, I raised my hand, and explained how the downlink was a Manchester encoded pulse train, and it was the uplink which was a long pulse full of sync phase reversals, bits and chips. Later in my career, I accidently embarrassed a Canadian student when I explained to the class how Canadians and the British tend to speak in complete sentences. In contrast, those of us from the U.S. tend to speak in fragments. Although I lost track of this student, I suspect he is very successful, since he has both Canadian and U.S. certifications. Recently, I re-established contact with a former student who needed to return to South Korea to complete his mandatory military service. With his military obligations met, he is back in the U.S. to pursue an advanced aviation degree at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. His success story is just beginning. Another former student from South Korea, Mi Yang Kim, was previously featured in Avionics News, and her success story is well under way.
Another former student is building a career in Croatia, and he is following my footsteps as an instructor. From Penn College, he went to the University of North Dakota to study aviation systems management. He applied his management and avionics knowledge as a flight line commander in the Croatian Air Force. Now, he conducts training in Zagreb for aviation inspectors. Also featured in a previous issue of Avionics News, Mwaura Ngoima, is still in Daytona Beach. We have crossed paths at many AEA Conventions. “I’m proudly African and a citizen of the world,” Ngoima said. Years ago, a Jamaican student became my employee, and then my friend. The way he described his arrival in New York was as telling as it was humorous. He landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport on a cold clear winter’s day. At the time, no snow graced the New York City streets. Since boarding the plane in Jamaica, he had been coddled in a nice warm cabin, and then a nice warm terminal. Visually, the weather outside the terminal doors looked quite similar to the weather he left in the Caribbean. Stepping outside was a rude shock. Immediately, he had to run back into the terminal to catch his breath. His story serves as a reminder that our international students
must deal with culture shock, language difficulty and weather acclimation. Yes, my life has been enriched by international students. I’ve learned some things along the way. For students still in the process of mastering the new language, be very aware of the difference between slang and jargon. For a lecture, a teacher should work to avoid slang, especially local slang. An international student might be rather shy about informing the instructor about their confusion. He or she will be afraid to appear stupid. A teacher should watch for nonverbal signs of confusion, and if necessary, at the appropriate time, initiate a conversation to determine whether or not they understood the lesson. Like Americans, these students are proud and patriotic. As a result, they should be treated with respect. They will be sensitive to any behavior which seems condescending. For any person teaching an international student, think of the challenges, and ask yourself a question. Could I step into another country, with odd weather, an incomprehensible language, unusual food and strange customs, and then excel as a student in a highly technical field? Personally, I’m not sure I would be as successful as they are, if our roles were reversed. q