Opportunities for Connection and Belonging
The menu of opportunities for Purdue students and faculty to learn from other cultures is extensive. From the day of welcome and throughout the year, our international students are provided with a variety of cultural and social activities, several of which are featured in this newsletter.
"GO Purdue!" is a program that provides monthly chartered bus trips to sites of interest across the region. A recent trip took students 30 miles north of West Lafayette for a two-hour cruise on Lake Freeman, aboard the historic Madam Carroll paddleboat. Students relaxed, visited, enjoyed refreshments, and listened to music as they glided by lake homes, forests and businesses. Other trips may include such places as Chicago, historic Shipshewana or beautiful Brown County.
International students enjoyed the traditional U.S. "Tailgate Party" prior to the Homecoming football game on September 28. Following the party, they sat together in the stands to watch Purdue's football team take on Northern Illinois University.
Purdue staff provide help to international students who are ready to apply for work authorization in the U.S. This includes explanations of the application process and education on the regulations related to student work experiences.
The International Friendship Program is coordinated through Purdue's Office of International Programs, and provides caring families who are willing to share meals, friendship and outings with international students and scholars. This voluntary program allows students to experience American hospitality and have a "family" away from home. Students and their host families build memories, understanding, and connection with people from different countries and cultures.
Winter Welcome Reaches Out to New International Students
By the time Purdue's new international students arrive on campus for the first time in early January, preparations have already been completed to give them a warm and hearty welcome. The Winter Welcome program included necessary administrative check-in procedures, as well as several days of activities to help new students feel more like Boilermakers. Five days of welcome helped acclimate 150 new international students to Purdue and American culture. Annette Benson, Coordinator for Programs & Engagement, stated that the Winter Welcome events included games, tours, tennis lessons, a pizza party, and was capped off with brunch followed by the men's basketball game against Nebraska at Mackey Arena.
Hosted by Global Affairs' Office of International Programs, the event series included the new Multinational Integration Xchange program, known as MIX, where current students were paired with approximately 150 new international students for transitional assistance and friendship. David Ayers, Associate Dean of International Programs, sees MIX as another way to bring about integration and cultural understanding. Practical items are also addressed by MIX leaders, such as obtaining cell phones, understanding the local transportation systems, and taking care of banking needs. In many cases, those students who become MIX leaders want to pay back the nice welcome they received when they first arrived at Purdue. International student Ghassani Adani became a MIX leader, explaining, “I know that the most important thing a new student wants is someone at Purdue who is always going to be there for them.” Even the MIX leaders are a “mix” of experienced Purdue students from across the globe. The majority of the MIX leaders are domestic students who indicate that they benefit from the relationship with Purdue's new international students a great deal.
Boiler Out! Student Volunteers Help Seniors in the Sunny South
Purdue's Boiler Out! program annually provides 225 of our international students with invaluable volunteer experiences, and as they are helping, our students are also developing friendships with others from across the globe. It is a volunteer program that has received enthusiastic acceptance by the students as well as by those who receive their help. Enthusiasm is evidenced in the fact that there is sometimes a lineup of students, all wanting to help, to be of service to others. Throughout the year, International Programs staff search for ways for our international students to volunteer, build friendships, learn skills, see other areas of the country, and meet a variety of people, all as they experience the joy of helping others.
This December, forty international and domestic students from seven countries spent their first week of winter break in Florida. The mission: to help elderly and impoverished families with tasks that they could not manage alone. They painted, repaired, cleaned, carried objects, and did yard work for residents of Leesburg, Florida. At the same time, they built friendships, skills, and character for themselves. Since many of our international students are not able to return home during winter break, Boiler Out! gave them this valuable experience and a chance to mix with other students from other countries as they worked side-by-side.
Generally limited to Indiana, Florida is the farthest our students have ventured for Boiler Out! For this trip, Purdue partnered with the National Relief Network Multi-Cultural program, which like Boiler Out!, is also designed to help people in need while providing students with experience, personal growth, and the opportunity to see other areas of the country.