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Free events designed to connect OHIO’s international, domestic students


A partnership between three Ohio University offices has resulted in a series of events designed to connect international and domestic students on the Athens Campus.

The Global Connections Series was created two years ago as a means of both helping international students with academic and social adjustment on campus and in the community and providing a platform that allows domestic students to interact with their international peers. The series is sponsored and organized by International Student and Faculty Services (ISFS), the Allen Student Advising Center and the Campus Involvement Center.

This semester’s Global Connections Series kicked off last month and continues through mid-April. The series events are free and open to all OHIO students.

“These events are organized by students and for students, and a lot of the speakers at these events are students,” said Viktoria Marinova, an international student from Bulgaria and South Africa who also serves as the graduate assistant for ISFS Orientation and helped to plan some of the series’ events.  

“The goal of these events is to get international and domestic students talking to each other because I think there’s a slight divide on campus,” Marinova explained. “We don’t often hang out together, not because we don’t want to, but because we don’t know how, we don’t have the platform. Through this series, we’re creating that platform and providing a space where international and domestic students can learn from and about one another, so we can understand each other’s points of view, struggles and so on. At the end of the day, we’re all students.”

The student population on Ohio University’s Athens Campus includes students from more than 110 countries, and Marinova and fellow graduate assistants Mengwei Su from the Allen Student Advising Center and Rose Troyer from the Campus Involvement Center have developed programming designed to link those students with domestic students on campus.

Already this semester, the Global Connections Series has featured: 

  • A talk titled “How to Get Out of Athens,” during which OHIO students who have traveled extensively shared tips and their experiences for traveling around the United States and abroad on a budget
  • Two chalk talks (one held before an OHIO Women’s Basketball game, another held before an OHIO Hockey game), during which students from OHIO’s Master of Business Administration/Master of Sports Administration Program, who were recommended by the Diversity and Inclusion Council of OHIO’s Sports Administration Program, provided general knowledge about each sport before the group then attended the game.

Upcoming Global Connections Series events include:

  • Staying Smart on Social Media – Scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, March 13, in the Living Learning Center, this event will include tips on making smart choices on social media, as well as information on privacy settings and utilizing social media tools like LinkedIn. The program will be led by Community Ambassadors Nicole Rhoads and Ben Rottersman.
  • Men’s Baseball Game Chalk Talk – Scheduled for noon to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 18, in Grover Center W111, this event will educate participants on everything they need to know about playing baseball and include a pizza lunch. Marshall Payne, Terrance Thomas and Paige Wells, students in the College of Business’ MBA/MSA program, will lead the talk. The chalk talk will be followed by an Ohio University Men’s Baseball Game beginning at 1 p.m. at Bob Wren Stadium.
  • Working in the U.S. Panel Discussion – Scheduled for 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 28, in Alden Library 301U, the event will look at all the need-to-knows in terms of working in the U.S. Panelists will include staff members from International Student and Faculty Services as well as the Career and Leadership Development Center and past Ohio University international students who are now working in the U.S. This panel discussion will focus on the experiences of those now working in the U.S. but will also allow guests to inquire regarding other important aspects of the U.S. job market.
  • Student Self Care – Scheduled for noon to 2 p.m. Thursday, April 6, in the Front Room, this event will focus on student wellness in high-stress environments and will include information about surviving Finals Week and tips for combatting stress. The program will be led by Community Ambassadors Nicole Rhoads and Ben Rottersman.

In addition, Marinova is developing a workshop titled “Classroom Culture in the U.S.” 

“As international students, you come here, and culturally it’s very different,” Marinova said. “At some universities in other countries, you don’t speak unless a professor asks you a question, you don’t speak unless you raise your hand – it’s very formal. Here, it’s often the opposite. Discussion is encouraged, debate is encouraged, and some students aren’t used to that. For some international students, classes at Ohio University are the first time they are in a classroom with both males and females. It can be a cultural shock.

“For domestic students, having someone who is not from America in the classroom can be a different experience for them and that requires a certain level of cultural sensitivity and understanding,” Marinova added. “That’s why I thought a classroom culture workshop was important – for international students to understand how a classroom in the U.S. works and for domestic students to understand some of the difficulties international students may face and how they can become culturally conscious.”

The Global Connections Series will wrap up the semester with an all-day trip to Columbus on Saturday, April 8. The trip will include a visit to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and shopping. 

In addition, the Global Connections Series is expecting to participate in this year’s Athens Beautification Day. Sponsored by Ohio University’s Community Service Leadership Council, Athens Beautification Day calls on members of the OHIO community to join forces with Athens residents in giving back to their collective home by participating in projects designed to spruce up the community. This year’s Athens Beautification Day will be held Sunday, April 9, with a Service Week scheduled leading up to the event. For more information about Athens Beautification Day and Athens Beautification Week and to register, visit https://serveathens.wordpress.com/.

Additional details about the trip to Columbus and Athens Beautification Day as well as updates on the other Global Connections Series events will be posted on the ISFS Facebook page

“We really want to make a difference on campus,” Marinova added. “Students are busy, but I think these Global Connections events are great opportunities to take a break from studying and do something different and fun. Learn something new, and meet your fellow Bobcats.”