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Diversity Abroad Focuses on Supporting Incoming International Students

Posted By Administration, Friday, October 6, 2017

Diversity Abroad is excited to introduce members of our International Student & Scholar Services Working Group. This group -- comprised of eight global education professionals with experience supporting inbound international students -- has committed to working together this fall to guide Diversity Abroad in developing resources to assist International Student Services Professionals facilitate meaningful global exchanges across the full range of diverse perspectives represented on our campuses in the US and abroad.
 

Working Group Members

Jacquis Watters (Co-Chair) 
Diversity Educator - Stevens Institute of Technology

Jacquis Watters (she, her, hers) currently serves as the Diversity Educator in the Division of Student Affairs at Stevens Institute of Technology. As a Higher Education practitioner, she’s blended discussions on the intersectionality of social identities such as race, gender, and sexuality into international education through her involvement in Diversity Abroad Network and Somewhere Over the Rainbow: Conference on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in International Education; as well as, through national and international conference presentations.

 

Monica J. Bryant, Ph.D.
International Student Career Development Specialist - Rutgers University

As a career development specialist and liaison to international students at Rutgers University, I provide counseling services and programming to all students; however, my primary focus is to develop programs and services to address the needs of international students, particularly those with interests in the Arts & Communication; Business, Financial Services, and Logistics; and Education and Public & Human Services career clusters.

My work is informed by more than 25 years of experience in the field of career planning and development in higher education. Thus, my experiences have enabled me to understand the career needs and challenges of a diverse student body. I also have worked in government, human services, and business. I hold a doctorate in organizational systems (focusing on behavior, development, and learning), a master's degree in human development, and bachelor's in psychology. I have a strong interest in experiential education, particularly in the context for cultural understanding, leadership development for civic and community building, and program assessment and evaluation using ROI Methodology. When I am not working as a career counselor, I serve as an adjunct instructor and continue my study and practice in Reiki healing—Western Usui and Jikiden Reiki styles. 

 
 
Duwon Clark
Dean of Global Initiatives - Fisk University

Duwon Clark is the Dean of Global Initiatives at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, where he manages study abroad and international student services. Duwon previously served as the coordinator for international student services at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, MO. He earned a BS in political science with a concentration in international relations from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) in Tallahassee, FL. He is now pursuing a master’s in public administration at the University of Missouri. Clark has studied in Ghana and traveled as a research and immersion scholar to several other countries, including China and Brazil by way of FAMU’s Center for Global Security and International Affairs (CGSIA). Duwon is a former Charles B. Rangel scholar and advocate for comprehensive internationalization at historically black colleges and universities.

 

Elizabeth Coder
International Student Services Coordinator - Carnegie Mellon University, Qatar

Elizabeth Coder is originally from Omaha, Nebraska and graduated from Auburn University in the great state of Alabama with a Bachelor’s degree in psychology. (Go Tigers!) She went on to receive her Master’s degree in Higher and Postsecondary Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. After completing her Master's, she served three terms with AmeriCorps, where she developed a love of experiential learning, social justice, and service-learning. After AmeriCorps, Elizabeth began her international education career, working on Semester at Sea and in first-year study abroad programs at Northeastern University and Elon University, working with 300 first-year students in five different countries. She currently serves as the International Student Services Coordinator at Carnegie Mellon University's campus in Doha, Qatar where she oversees international student services, study abroad, and campus exchange. She is also currently a doctoral student in Comparative and International Development Education at the University of Minnesota where she is planning to research the intersection between the intercultural learning that happens internationally in study abroad programs and the intercultural learning that happens domestically in diversity education centers on college campuses.

 

Barbara Kappler, Ph.D
Assistant Dean and Director of International Student and Scholar Services - Univ of MN

Barbara Kappler, Ph.D., is Assistant Dean and Director of International Student and Scholar Services with Global Programs and Strategy Alliance and a member of the Graduate Faculty with the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota.  Barbara has 25 years of experience in facilitating and teaching  in intercultural communication, leading and managing programs, and conducting research. She enjoys writing and is co-editor of NAFSA’s 2017 3rd edition of Learning Across Cultures and co-author of three guides for students, staff, and language instructors on Maximizing Study Abroad, as well as a book on communication styles. Her career at the University has been an exciting blend of program and leadership experiences, curriculum development, intercultural communication research, teaching, and working with international students.

 

Lee Seedorff
Assistant Provost for International Programs - University of Iowa

Reporting to the Assistant Provost for International Programs, Lee has day-to-day administrative oversight of ISSS.  She sets advising policies and procedures, interprets and applies federal regulations and other immigration guidelines, oversees the ISSS budget, and works closely with University of Iowa administration and other programs regarding internationalization issues.  Lee has considerable experience providing intercultural training and programming for students, staff, and faculty including use of the Intercultural Development Inventory.  A member of ISSS since 1999, she served as Regulatory Ombudsperson for Region IV of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, liaising with schools in the region and the Department of Homeland Security/Department of State.  She was also involved with NAFSA for a number of years providing training for advisors new to the field, and currently serves as the Region IV International Education Leadership Rep.  As a result of her long-term expertise in F and J regulations, she has provided expert witness opinions in legal cases and published an article on international student employment co-authored with Amanda McFadden from the Pomerantz Career Center in New Directions for Student Services in 2017.  Lee has a B.A. with double majors in Anthropology and South Asian Religions, a minor in Sanskrit Language and Literature, and a Master of Social Work, all from the University of Iowa.  She has studied in India and St. Lucia, and spent time in Mexico, Canada, Thailand, and Singapore.  She has studied the Spanish, Hindi, Urdu, and Sanskrit languages, and made less successful attempts to learn Chinese (Mandarin) and German.

 

Carrie Trimble, Ph.D.
A
ssociate Professor of Marketing and the Director of the Center for International Education - Millikin University

Carrie Trimble is an Associate Professor of Marketing and the Director of the Center for International Education at Millikin University with graduate degrees in Communication (M.A. From University of Illinois Springfield) and Mass Media (Ph.D. from Michigan State University) and a graduate certificate in International Marketing (Boston University). She joined the Millikin University faculty in 2011. Her area of expertise is consumer response to marketing communications like cause-related marketing campaigns and branded social media efforts. She’s a grammando who keeps her class presentations full of contemporary examples and energy. She advises International students who study at Millikin and U.S. students preparing to study abroad as well as teaching Marketing and International Business courses. She’s taught travel courses in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Viet Nam, China, Italy, and Walt Disney World. Fascinated by digital media and media technologies, she can’t wait to see how the future of communication unfolds.

 

Claire Witko
Director of Programs - Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities (AGB)

Claire Witko is the Director of Programs at AGB, where she is responsible for the association’s national programs, seminars, and other programmatic initiatives for governing boards and institutional leaders.  Most recently, she was the Director of Summer and Non-Degree Programs at The George Washington University, managing over 600 international and domestic high school, undergraduate and adult students each summer. Prior to her work at GW, Claire was the Executive Director of the South Africa-Washington International Program (SAWIP), a non-profit that brings together diverse university students from South Africa for leadership development and peace building. Originally a native of Chicago, Claire graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a BA in Cultural Studies, received an MA in International Education from American University and has also completed her MBA at Johns Hopkins Carey School of Business. Previously, Claire has run international student programs at the UNCF Special Programs Corporation and the American University, Washington College of Law, and was the Assistant Manager of Development for the National Symphony Orchestra. She and her husband love working on their house and cuddling with their adorable pup, Hubert. 

 

Tags:  International Exchange  International Students 

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Culture Shock

Posted By Administration, Monday, November 19, 2012
Updated: Thursday, July 21, 2016

“All Americans are superficial and I can’t wait to go home.” This is a popular statement made by international students during their first semester of studying in the U.S. Initially students can develop a euphoria with America and the experience may meet or even surpass their previous expectations. However, when that wears off and homesickness starts to brew it is no surprise that students who have come to the U.S. to earn degrees experience some sort of shock. They may even develop disdain and seriously contemplate going back home. The language barrier alone can drive someone crazy, not to mention the learning curve to use American slang, greetings and common phrases. Culture shock just might be the most pressing issue for international students studying in the U.S., driving students to quit their studies and give up on earning the degree of their dreams.

There are multiple facets to experiencing this shock. Some symptoms below could be the initial phase of culture shock:

  • Anxiety
  • Loneliness
  • Feeling misunderstood
  • Asking: “Why am I here?"
  • Extreme homesickness

These symptoms are all very real and could be in result of the student comparing their culture and the value system in their home country to that in the U.S. Naturally new students make comparisons, but while in culture shock most comparisons will end with negative conclusions. What is an international student to do? There are many tips and tricks that revolve around an altered perspective to help ensure that the culture shock phase doesn’t last long.

Tip #1: Try not to compare and be open-minded. There are an immense number of differences between the U.S. and any other country. Trying to embrace those differences by opening oneself up to new experiences will guarantee an awesome international experience.

Tip #2: Reach out. As an international student it is very difficult to make new friends in the U.S. without introducing oneself or making attempts at consistent social interaction. There are numerous student organizations, clubs and groups on campus with like-minded domestic students eager to socialize around a cause or interest.

Tip #3: Use the resources provided to you. Academic counselors, the international student office, admissions office and new friends will all contribute to and support the transition into the U.S. and keep culture shock to a minimum. Consistently using these resources will serve the student well.

The expectations of international students usually exclude the reality of culture shock. But in order to excel academically an international student will most definitely need to feel comfortable in their new home. Helping students overcome these inevitable obstacles will ensure a smooth transition, adding great value to any U.S. campus. With a combined effort this issue can be minimized helping international students take away an unparalleled and invaluable college experience.

The Diversity Network sends its sincere thanks and appreciation to Kala Garner for sharing her thoughts on the most pressing issue facing international students in the U.S. today.  If you would like to share your thoughts, email us at members@diversitynetwork.org

Tags:  culture shock  International Students  Outreach  resources 

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Keys to Success as an International Student in the United States

Posted By Administration, Monday, August 27, 2012
Updated: Thursday, July 21, 2016

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has been a longtime advocate of international student exchange, a proponent of international student–friendly visa policies, and has made a push to emphasize the importance of diversity within America’s higher education institutions. But with rising homeland security tensions following September 11th, it has been increasingly more difficult for international students to pursue an education in this country. Not only are there external obstacles inhibiting the success of foreign students in our universities, there are also internal challenges that inherently impede these students as they attempt to assimilate to the North American culture of education. 

Just as American students face adversity when traveling and studying in foreign countries, there are many difficulties that must be overcome by international students in the United States. The language barrier may be the most intimidating and difficult to conquer, but basic communication skills that many American students take for granted can be a cause for concern, and it is imperative that international students learn to vanquish these barriers in order to be successful.

In one case, a twenty-five-year old graduate student who has the English skills of an eighteen-year-old freshman may feel downtrodden by his inability to communicate with American students at the level that he would in his own country. Although it may be frustratingly difficult to make friends, persistence is the key to success. The more that international students can teach Americans about their own culture, American students, in turn, will be more open and willing to exchange the same.

International students are sometimes less likely to ask for help when in need, and tend to be more reserved or modest due to the communication divide. In most American universities, assistance and academic guidance are available, but a student that is unfamiliar with the accessibility of these resources may not be able to capitalize. 

Other subtle nuances such as the way in which Americans say hello can be alienating to some foreign students. Simply asking, “How are you doing?” to a stranger is unorthodox in some East Asian cultures for example. The sooner an international student can master the basic etiquette of day-to-day interaction, the easier it will be for that student to feel comfortable and blossom in the American higher education system.

Most students, after being away from home for a long time, can begin to feel homesick. However, activities and on-campus exposure to other students will aid by increasing morale and self confidence, and will eventually lead to the international student finding his or her own niche in the student population.

Integration, assimilation, self-pride, and a general sense of belonging on campus can be the most beneficial ways to succeed as an international student. As globalization and diversification are key to growing a strong and stable economy, it is imperative that our universities continue to empower international students to succeed alongside their American counterparts.

The Diversity Network sends its sincere thanks and appreciation to Riley Sklar for sharing his thoughts on the challenges facing international students in the US.  If you would like to share your thoughts, email us at members(at)diversitynetwork.org.

Tags:  culture shock  International Students  language 

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International Exchange: Stepping Away from Cultural Tourism

Posted By Lily Lopez-McGee, Thursday, December 9, 2010
Updated: Thursday, July 21, 2016

Stepping out of a long tour bus, a group of American students work their way into the common area of a small non-profit in San Lucas, Nicaragua. After hearing the organization’s director speak about its work with the local community and the challenges facing Nicaraguan youth, the students ask a few questions and are hurried back out to the bus to make their next stop. The dialogue stops there. The students go on with their courses and are unlikely to discuss the organization or their experience again.

In preparing for international study, students are generally advised into setting academic and professional goals for what they would like to gain from their experience. Though these are worthwhile goals, rarely do you find that emphasis is placed on true immersion into the local culture.Instead what is often the case is that students are conditioned to act as cultural tourists.This means that though they live near local students, they interact primarily with other foreigners.This is in part due to the pre-departure readiness of students, but it is also a result of program design and implementation. In an ideal scenario, a program provider would integrate true immersion through activities that allow study abroad students to peer into the real lives of their local peers.

A relatively new documentary titled Crossing Borders demonstrates one director’s attempt to create such an environment for American students.The goal of the film is to “support the development of intercultural empathy and critical thinking skills, and initiate dialogue between students of different cultures” outside of the classroom. Director Arnd Wächter’s Crossing Borders documentary challenges the traditional approach of study abroad programs that place American students with other American students, a method that rarely results in students engaging young people from the host country. International exchange should be more than simply taking classes in a different country; it should be an opportunity to truly exchange ideas, experiences and beliefs to better understand our differences, and more importantly, share our similarities.

Through the documentary, Wachter tries “to overcome the artificial separation between ‘Us’ and ‘Them.’” In a system where economic, diplomatic, and military exchanges require a deeper cultural understanding of one another, international programs should work to expose participants to other cultures and ways of thinking not only through academic training but also through personal interactions with the local community. Homestays and cultural site visits alone cannot take the place of thoughtful conversations between study abroad students and their peers in the host country.

In addition to offering students on both sides the opportunity to explore other perspectives, students are able to reflect on their own beliefs, experiences, and ideas - something Karen Rodriguez describes as “an awareness of how one is informed by one’s own culture and makes sense of cultural differences subjectively.” These skills - empathy and critical reflection - though hard to measure, are imperative to a student’s successful entry into a global job market.

As educators, program providers, advisers, and mentors, we must encourage young people to have these conversations. There is a great opportunity to change the way young people see the world and communicate with those who think differently. Moving away from cultural tourism and stepping toward models of true cultural immersion will have a positive long-term impact on the next generation of international leaders.

Lily Lopez-McGee currently serves as Program Manager with the UNCF Special Programs Corporation in the Institute for International Public Policy division. Among her many duties, Ms. Lopez-McGee manages student internships, language institutes and social media outreach.  She is fluent in Spanish and has traveled through parts of Latin America and Western Europe. She is a graduate of the University of Washington Evans School for Public Affairs, where she earned her Master's of Public Administration.

Tags:  100000 Strong Initiative  AID Roadmap  career  China  culture shock  Diversity  International Exchange  International Students 

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