It is with no doubt that the past two years were one of the most stressful and hard times for many people. In particular, international students faced numerous challenges and big decisions regarding their academic education in the U.S.
Despite these challenges, the international students at Oakland University stayed highly engaged in campus events as well as building new relationships with their classmates at OU, according to Petra Knoche, international advisor for the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO).
“They have done an amazing job working through these difficulties, having virtual classes and appointments with our office,” Knoche said. “We have done some in-person events last semester with our CAIR program, and it was wonderful seeing people together.”
The ISSO offers a variety of opportunities to international students for their better college life experience. In the upcoming month, it is hosting the International Student Conference – Rebuilding and Resilience: Strategies for post-pandemic success via Zoom.
This online conference will focus on international students who are, and have been, studying in the U.S. in a higher education setting over the past one or two years. Attendees will be provided tools, techniques and ideas to reimagine and prepare for the challenges and opportunities which lie ahead.
Divided into two sessions – morning and afternoon, the conference will focus on different topics each session. The morning session will focus on the past and lessons learned. Students will analyze their personal observations and experiences these past two years, and develop an action plan for their future. The afternoon session will focus on helping students imagine their future. students may choose to attend presentations on leadership, employment opportunities, cultural adjustments, and work-life balance.
“Since March 2020, the world has changed and has possibly altered the goals and dreams of these students,” Knoche said. “This conference will focus on providing tools and support for students living through this unprecedented moment of disruption so that they may take charge of their future goals and dreams.”
One of the sessions will include presentations by Dr. Britt Rios-Ellis, leading immigration attorney Scott Cooper, political science department chair Dr. Peter Trumbore, interdisciplinary health sciences special lecturer Jim Boniface, etc.
These keynote speakers will focus on issues of current concern both to students and to the local international population and will also address the needs of the international community more broadly in an effort to create dialogue to broaden and champion diversity on the campus as well as creating visibility for OU as a leader in this field.
Cezara Siotean is one of the international students from Romania. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and management from Albion College, and later came to OU to continue to pursue her master’s degree in business administration with hopes to work in healthcare administration in the future.
“I was very lucky to meet incredible people along the way,” Siotean said. “From my mentors to my professors and my supervisors/colleagues, they all hold a special place in my heart. I had a wonderful college experience which continued into my Master’s program.Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone and be open-minded to opportunities that might not manifest themselves exactly how you planned or expected.”
Although Siotean completed most of her graduate courses online, she emphasized the importance of having a strong support system for the international students who are living and studying in a country far away from home. The ISSO office provided the support she needed, according to her.
“The ISSO office does a great job at communicating and supporting International Students, Siotean said. “They offer a wonderful support system for OU students and I encourage everybody to use their services and come to their events. I am so grateful for my experience in both undergrad and grad school and for the way in which it shaped me and I consider coming to study in the US one of the best decisions I’ve made.”
“Throughout the conference, attendees will have the opportunity to network and share with others, as they learn more about themselves,” Knoche said. “We want to keep engaging them and getting them out of their comfort zones, learning new skills, improving their English language, finding employment opportunities as well as sharing their culture, traditions with the OU community. We are hoping to resume in-person events soon.”
Knoche also emphasized that the conference will bring together international students and scholars from OU and local community colleges who care about international real-world issues and the advancement of internationalization in the U.S., as well as having a desire to grow in their leadership roles.
The conference will be held via Zoom on Friday, Feb. 18 from 8:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Students can register by completing the registration form. For more information about the conference or other events hosted by the ISSO, visit its website or contact Petra Knoche at [email protected]