Kelly Pan knows the needs and concerns of international students more intimately than most. Before becoming a program coordinator for the American Language Program (ALP) at California State University, East Bay, she was an international student from Beijing, China.
Pan’s story begins shortly after graduating from high school when she came to the U.S. to visit her grandparents, “Initially it was just a visit. I decided to come to here for school by the time I went back home.”
Despite having made up her own mind, she had to convince the minds of her parents to let her study in the United States, “My parents’ only real knowledge of the U.S. came from Chinese media outlets, which covers the dangers of moving here. My parents were very hesitant. It took a few years for me to prove to them that nothing bad was happening; that I could take care of myself.”
Pan came to the U.S. knowing only high school English, so she enrolled in a local community college where she improved her English through classes, making English speaking friends, and watching the sitcom Friends. After community college, she transferred to Cal State East Bay for a BA in multimedia and graphic design.
For all the challenges that she faced making her transition to an American way of life, Pan says she had one major saving grace, the Bay Area, “There’s so much here, so many cultures and food that I never felt too alone, even when I was just starting out.”
Pan takes her job at CSUEB very seriously and says she wants students — international and domestic — to remember, “You want to set a goal and work hard towards it. In the meantime, enjoy life while studying here. We are here to help you to complete your dream and achieve your goals.”
Pan is the subject of a new micro documentary highlighting her life and the services provided for visiting and international students. CSUEB International Education - Making the Transition to Education and Life in California