Carmen Pena, Eduardo Pinto and Edgar Ferrufino — all students at the Universidad Nacional de Agricultura in Catacamas — arrived at UGA-Griffin on June 6 and will leave again Sept. 9. In between, they are furthering their studies in plant pathology, entomology and safety training for landscapers.
Their visit, the first of its kind from Honduran students, was initiated by UGA-Griffin’s Center for Urban Agriculture Safety Program Director J. Rolando Orellana, who is a graduate from the Catacamas university himself.
Orellana has taken the three students under his wing, helping them adjust to a new environment, showing them around the metro Atlanta area and making sure they stay disciplined and take advantage of the opportunity.
“It’s definitely attractive, since the original idea of the Griffin campus was to be an experiment station,” he said. “It’s definitely attractive for international students to come to Griffin.”
Aside from their studies for their majors — all are set to graduate in December back in Honduras — the three students are taking English classes twice a week at Southern Crescent Technical College. And on another two days per week, they play soccer with UGA-Griffin staff during lunch time.
Ferrufino said that while the adjusting was difficult at first, he is enjoying his time on campus.
Orellana is hoping that this first-ever visit from Honduran students could eventually turn into an exchange program, provided funding is available. That could attract more students to the local campus, and some of them might stay.
“They have the opportunity to decide on whether to pursue a master’s degree at UGA,” Orellana said, adding that the three students currently here are all considering just that.