Host Partner Feature: Western Washington University

This month, World Learning is thrilled to spotlight Western Washington University (WWU), which is located in Bellingham, Washington. To shed light on WWU’s commitment to international students, World Learning reached out to Richard Bruce, Director of International Student & Scholar Services, who has played a pivotal role in supporting Global UGRAD participants. Let’s dive into the conversation with Richard to learn more about the exceptional experience that awaits Global UGRAD students at WWU.

Headshot of Richard Bruce
Richard Bruce, Director of International Student & Scholar Services at WWU

1. Meet Richard Bruce, Director of International & Student Scholar Services

Richard Bruce is the Director of International Student & Scholar Services at WWU and a member of the team for approximately 10 years. Richard and his staff have been consistently hosting Global UGRAD participants since 2013.

2. A Seamless Transition: Orientation at WWU

Navigating a new academic environment can be challenging, but WWU ensures that Global UGRAD students receive the support they need. Orientation at WWU starts with an online course in Canvas, allowing students to familiarize themselves with the university even before they arrive. Upon their arrival, students are welcomed with a campus walking tour, an introduction to the local bus system, and an opportunity to explore a nearby supermarket. The weekend wraps up with attendance at a university sports event. On the official day of orientation, students receive presentations on various aspects of campus life, immigration, academic expectations, and student resources, all culminating in a welcome reception. In the days that follow, students can attend the Fall Info Fair, a vibrant event showcasing campus resources and student clubs, an excellent opportunity to get involved in campus life.

3. The Global Gourmets Banquet: A Delicious Tradition

A favorite event of Richard’s on campus and one of WWU’s standout events for international students is the Global Gourmets Banquet—an annual dinner that celebrates the diverse cultures and cuisines of WWU’s international community. Student volunteers collaborate with the University’s Executive Chef and Dining Services staff to prepare authentic dishes from their home countries. Each student shares a short presentation about their country and the significance of their chosen dish. Global UGRAD participants have always enthusiastically contributed to this event, making it a delightful showcase of international diversity and culinary expertise.

Middle: Naomi Ng (Malaysia), Right: Maria Victoria Gonzalez (Paraguay) from Global UGRAD 2017

4. What Sets WWU Apart?

Western Washington University offers a unique blend of academic excellence and natural beauty. Bellingham combines the charm of a coastal town with easy access to big-city amenities. The region’s proximity to the sea and mountains provides ample opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Richard’s favorite place on campus is Lakewood, WWU’s watersports facility situated on Lake Whatcom. Lakewood offers sailboat, canoe, and kayak rentals, making it the perfect spot for students, staff, and faculty to unwind and connect with nature. It’s also a regular venue for international student events, providing a stunning backdrop for memorable gatherings.

5. Global UGRAD Impact at WWU

Global UGRAD students have had a significant impact on the WWU community. Arriving from countries typically underrepresented in the international student population, they enrich the campus with their unique perspectives and experiences. Previous Global UGRAD participants at WWU have come from diverse backgrounds, including Algeria, Egypt, Cambodia, Paraguay, and Uzbekistan. Their presence fosters cross-cultural understanding and helps create a more globally aware and inclusive campus environment.