International students mean business in Eugene

International students mean business in Eugene »Play Video
Mercedes of Eugene hired an employee fluent in Mandarin Chinese to serve international customers

EUGENE, Ore. - Diane Li recalls arriving in Eugene as an international student at the University of Oregon.

"The first time I came to Eugene, everything was so new to me," Li said.

Mercedes of Eugene last fall hired Li, who is fluent in Mandarin Chinese, to handle international business relations.

"She handles almost all of the students who come to see us," said Ralph Parshall, the dealership's general manager.

Parshall said a wide range of international students come to the Mercedes lot in Eugene.

"More Chinese than we have seen in the past - in the last two years," he said.

The change parallels the growth in international students at Oregon, where enrollment has increased by 88 percent since 2002. Just under 3,000 international students from around the globe currently attend UO.

Kelvin Fung graduated from the UO in 2011.

"Mainly, I learned my English in the United States," he said. "That is the main reason I am here."

Fung stuck around after graduation, teaming up with a local business person to open the Top Class Auto Salon.

"He approached me and he asked me if I would be interested in going into business together and what that would look like," recalled Keith Jenkins.

Fung said international students bring a new flare to Eugene.

"And it makes Eugene better," he said.