International Students Enjoy Holiday Cheer Despite Recent Tragic Events

Friday, January 4, 2019

Story by Lexi Kornblum

The Camp Fire of November 8, 2018, left behind it a wake of destruction like nothing our community has seen before. Everyone knows students, teachers, and friends who were impacted by the fire, leaving people heartbroken and the city on edge. Despite this, the spirit of the season was on full display at the American Language and Culture Immersion (ALCI Chico) holiday social held on Friday, December 14, 2018.

The party was a celebration of a successful ALCI session. Students from countries such as Kuwait and Japan gathered to celebrate their achievements and honor some special students.

Three students were awarded a Certificate of Membership for their participation in the first ALCI Student Council in 40 years. The Student Council is the voice of the group as a whole and is there to provide suggestions to the faculty and staff to improve their time in the program. Student Council mentor and Director of International Development William Dantona awarded the certificates and gave a heartwarming speech.

“I did not feel happy until the day that you all came back (to classes),” Dantona said, referring to the extended emergency closure of the Chico State campus due to the fire. “Being together is what will make it okay.”

The faculty and students at ALCI work together closely. The nature of the international program is to push students out of their comfort zones and expand their knowledge, and the staff is always on hand to help. This can lead to great mentoring partnerships between students and faculty.

Strong connections don’t just form with the teachers, though. The friendships between the international students themselves are exceptionally impactful. The unfamiliar environment and dramatic cultural changes create a deep and lasting camaraderie between the students.
“It’s very different from my home, but having the other students makes it better,” said A’ Abdullah Husain. Husain has been here for multiple semesters, but he is returning home to Kuwait in the upcoming year. “I will miss ALCI and I will miss the other students and the teachers. I loved my time here and will remember it forever.”

The devastation of the Camp Fire will not soon be forgotten, but it brings with it a silver lining. The challenging weeks in the aftermath of the destruction have reminded everyone of what is truly precious to us. For the ALCI students, the connections with the other students and the fellowships with faculty have become even deeper and leaving now almost sounds unbearable. And yet, life moves on and the students will set out to further their education and make an impact on the world. One thing is for sure, though: the students will never forget their time at ALCI or the friendships they made here.

ALCI students celebrate at the 2019 holiday party.


Lyrics for the holiday sing along


Chris Brands and ALCI student enjoying the holiday festivities


Student had a visit from Santa Claus!


Custom-decorated cookies!