Virtually welcoming international students

Rachel Yim, Science & Technology Reporter

The welcome week for international students at Oakland University this fall was different than any other year with increased virtual events.

There were a variety of events and activities that student organizations hosted during the welcome week. The International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO), Office for Student Involvement (OSI) and Oakland University Student Congress (OUSC) hosted a welcome event specifically for the international students on Wednesday, Sept. 9 via Google Meet.

“We provide these international students different opportunities such as leadership opportunities, service opportunities and programs we do on campus that they can attend,” Jean Ann Miller, senior director of OSI, said.

Though it was a virtual meeting, it didn’t stop student organizations from trying to provide opportunities for the international students.

According to Miller, at least 20 to 25 international students joined the virtual meeting, and there could have been even more as the meeting was live-streamed for everyone interested to watch.

The meeting consisted of various informative presentations, prepared by each organization. Miller explained that a two-way communication was the hardest part of this meeting to achieve, due to it being a virtual meeting.

“It was more … one-way than two-way,” she said. “Because we are giving them great information, but we weren’t able to get the responses back from them. Not having an in-person interaction was definitely the biggest difference from last year’s event.”

The difficulties the international students and the members of these organizations are facing is not only in communication but also in taking usual trips to explore Southeastern Michigan. Miller expressed her frustration about not being able to take off-campus trips with the international students as they often take advantage of this exploration.

Despite the difficulties, Miller and other members of student diversity organizations are not giving up on providing the international students opportunities.

As the communication with the international students is more strained during this pandemic, Miller encourages these students to register on GrizzOrgs to be in touch with what is happening on campus and to be involved in a variety of student organizations.

“All of us [members of organizations] are collaborating together to make it happen and provide them the Oakland University experiences and [the] American culture experiences they deserve,” Miller said. “We just have to find an innovative, creative way to be able to connect.”

Students can fill out an interest sheet on OSI website for the chance to join student organizations or  to get involved in campus.