Kayla Lennon of Residential Housing speaks with incoming students at International Student Orientation

Photographer: Ben Siegel

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New International students welcomed to campus with orientation activities

Global Connections program begins this fall

Ohio University International Student and Faculty Services (ISFS) welcomed about 400 graduate, undergraduate and OPIE program students to the Athens Campus over the past two weeks during the 2014 International Student Orientation.

The annual orientation prepares the students, who came from more than 60 different countries, for the academic year by teaching them need-to-know information like student insurance, housing, safety and immigration.

Krista McCallum-Beatty, director of ISFS, praised the ISFS peer advisors for doing a wonderful job of helping the new students get settled in Athens.

"We are excited to have such a great group of new students joining the vibrant international community at OHIO. ISFS greatly appreciates the efforts of Admissions, the Graduate College and OPIE in helping welcome these new students," McCallum-Beatty said.  

The international student orientation program includes required sessions on University policies and immigration regulations as well as campus scavenger hunts, tours of Alden Library and many social events to help students meet people.

Kit Klepinger, assistant director of ISFS, said her staff used Facebook and Twitter for the first time to share information with the incoming students. Since June, the staffers have used the social media tools to share things like important reminders, the weather in Athens and pictures.

"We're pleased with the amount of diversity in this year's class, which has students from more than 30 countries around the world," Klepinger said. "This year's orientation was a great two weeks and everyone seemed interested and engaged in all of the activities."

ISFS offered evening and weekend activities for students who arrived to campus late in the day or during the weekend when the ISFS office is closed. The office will also host additional orientation sessions for students who arrive to campus during the first week of classes.

Each day during orientation, ISFS coordinated three shuttle rides from the Port Columbus International Airport to Athens for students who didn't arrange other transportation. Two ISFS student staffers were stationed at the Columbus airport each day to assist incoming students with need-to-know information like help with their immigration paperwork and housing accommodations.

Another transportation service ISFS offered this year was a free shuttle to the Athens Wal-Mart Store, which allowed the students to shop for food and other back-to-school necessities.

This fall, ISFS will host a new first-year college experience program titled "Global Connections." It will run the first six weeks of the semester and will feature a different theme for the week's activities. The first week's theme is American classroom culture, and a future one will focus on athletics.

On Wednesday, Aug. 20, ISFS hosted an International Student Resource Fair in the Baker University Center Ballroom. The event introduces new students to many of the numerous organizations and services that the University has available to them.

One of the representatives at the resource fair was Gabriela Castaneda-Jimenez, an instructor for the Ohio University English Language Improvement Program (ELIP). She said ELIP, which is located in Gordy Hall, helps all students with their academic writing and public speaking skills.  

"We were able to direct both graduate and undergraduate students to our program, which can offer them classes that improve their writing and speaking," said Castaneda-Jimenez. "Many of them thought they would have to pay for ELIP classes, so they couldn't believe they are free."  

The official orientation activities ended on Saturday, Aug. 23, with an International Student Welcome Picnic at Southside Park in Athens. The students and their families and friends enjoyed food provided by ISFS and the International Student Union in a casual outdoor setting.