WCC Global Studies student from Bosnia offers international experience, finds local opportunities
Students who enroll in Washtenaw Community College’s Global Studies program usually do so to grow their international and intercultural perspectives. Some even go on to work outside of the U.S. But there are others who bring their own world of experience to the program.
For student ambassador Aldin Fafulovic, leaving his homeland of Bosnia to attend WCC was a part of realizing his dreams. “I always knew I wanted to study abroad,” he said.
No stranger to studying in a foreign land, Fafulovic lived in Germany and France as a child. After graduating from high school in France with a concentration in electrotechnology, he returned to his native Bosnia eager and ready to work. But to his surprise and disappointment, his French diploma was not recognized by local employers. That meant he would have to spend another four years to earn a Bosnian diploma.
Having to attend high school twice was a major setback for Fafulovic, but it wasn’t enough to derail his plans. He knew the best chance of finding gainful employment was to continue his studies abroad.
Fafulovic first came to the U.S. two years ago when he traveled here to support a friend in Ann Arbor who was diagnosed with cancer. While here, he saw an opportunity to pursue his education and made plans to return the following year on a student visa. “It was a long process, and only God was able to make it happen.”
Why WCC? Fafulovic said the tuition is “crazy cheap and offers the same level of education that a public university offers.”
Since attending WCC, Fafulovic has become a familiar face on campus from his participation in the annual Diversity Extravaganza, where he performed a Bosnian song, “Nesanice” in his native language, to serving as a student ambassador. His duties include recruiting new students, running orientations, giving presentations and tours, contacting and even mentoring new students.
As international students are not legally allowed to work off campus while enrolled, he counts it as a real blessing to be hired as a student ambassador. Not only is he gainfully employed, he gets paid to do what comes naturally to him—share his experience and help guide other students to campus resources. “We organize events and leadership sessions,” he said. “We even have our own library here—if you have used textbooks, you don’t have to sell them but share them. We can come together as students to help each other.”
In addition to being a student ambassador, Fafulovic is active in the International Student Organization on campus, where he also supports and welcomes new students. “It’s hard to travel and feel like you fit in,” he said. “We will take care of them, help them, share with them, guide them, be friends with them.”
As an international student, education is a privilege Fafulovic embraces fully. By working with new students, he has the opportunity to share his joy with them about what it means to study at a school that’s been opening its doors for the past 50 years.
“He’s passionate about WCC and approaches everything with such positivity that it is hard to not change your attitude when you’re around him,” said Julie Catanzarite, Manager of New Student Programming at WCC. “He brings a wide variety of experiences to the job and genuinely enjoys connecting with people from different backgrounds.”
“WCC offers education for everyone, no matter your education level. If you have a desire to study, then you are good enough,” he said “WCC makes me feel at home.”
Spoken like a true student ambassador.
By Jessica Bibbee
Work Study Student, Public Relations