Partner Feature: Old Dominion University

This month, we are featuring one of the 50+ universities that host Global UGRAD students during their time in the United States.  Sharon Pitney, the Outreach Coordinator in the Center for Global Engagement at Old Dominion University (ODU), shares some of the ways ODU promotes international connections on campus. You can find out more about this university at their website.

How does your campus welcome international students at the start of the semester? ODU hosts an orientation program of information sessions and social events (Weeks of Welcome) for F-1 and J-1 international students who are starting a new degree, certificate, or exchange program. The information sessions are interactive sessions that focus on academic life, immigration regulations, healthcare, safety, employment, and other topics critical to success at ODU.  The Weeks of Welcome are designed to welcome all students to campus, get the year started with some fun, and allow students to meet each other and form new friendships.

What resources are available to international students? We have a campus Intercultural Relations office that promotes international connections.  These global learning and engagement initiatives provide an array of co-curricular opportunities to enrich international experiences on campus and enhance global competency for ODU community members. With its focuses on global learning and engagement initiatives, the International Initiatives Unit coordinates and organizes intercultural and educational opportunities for authentic cross-cultural interaction and learning programs/experiences between domestic and international students.  Samples of program initiatives that aim to build an inclusive community for the international student community include varieties of programs during the annual International Education Week, global mentorship programs through the Global Monarch Club, Global Café, a Global Engagement Living Learning apartment tower on campus, the International Student Advisory Board and various cultural celebrations throughout the academic year.

Sharon’s favorite place on campus

Favorite Place on Campus: The dock behind Whitehurst Hall… best sunset in town!

Best positive takeaway from her connection with Global UGRAD: helping my Global UGRAD students take on a whole new dimension involving a different language, different culture, and different setting and watching them thrive while doing so, has helped me to recognize my own privileged position and develop a greater sense of empathy, in turn inspiring me to want to continue to give back for many years to come.