Georgia College & State University
This September, Global UGRAD Program Officer, Melanie Winters, had the opportunity to visit Georgia College & State University (GCSU) in Milledgeville, Georgia. During the visit, Melanie was able to engage with GCSU staff, gain valuable insights into the university’s processes and student experiences, and meet with the Global UGRAD participants studying there this fall semester: Enkhjin Shinebayar (Mongolia), Durdonakhon Odilova (Uzbekistan), Barbare Janjalashvili (Georgia), Paul Romero Blanco (El Salvador), and Sovichea Saron (Cambodia).
As a small liberal arts university nestled in the rural town of Milledgeville, GCSU stands as the third-ranked school in the state, emphasizing its commitment to student success as well as a strong focus on academics, student safety, and community engagement. The campus is newly renovated to be accessible to all students, including those with disabilities, and the free campus shuttle makes it easy for students to get around both Central and West Campus as well as into downtown Milledgeville.
Melanie met with each of the students studying at GCSU for meals both on-campus in the main dining hall as well as at an off-campus favorite, “The Brick.” Students shared their experiences and provided an inside look at all that GCSU has to offer. Each of the students expressed how welcoming the staff at GCSU are and highlighted unique classroom experiences. For example, Sovichea Saron and Durdonakhon Odilova are excited to use the campus’s ‘dark room’ for a project in their film class this semester. Melanie was also able to attend Paul’s Intro to American Language & Culture class where they toured Georgia’s Old Governor’s Mansion, a focal point of GCSU’s campus that is owned by the university and an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. Melanie enjoyed seeing how close the Global UGRAD students had become and hearing how they have supported one another since their arrival in August.
Jason Wynn, Assistant Director of International Student & Scholar Services, is the primary contact for the Global UGRAD Program at GCSU and acted as Melanie’s gracious host during this site visit. Jason, as well as the rest of the staff at GCSU’s International Education Center (IEC), provides a personal and welcoming environment for the international students on campus and emphasizes how much they love the Global UGRAD Program and its students! The IEC is very active on campus and organizes events to connect international students with American students and the local community through the International Club and International Fest. The office also facilitates the Connections Program, matching international students with local host families which nearly all of the Global UGRAD students are participating in this semester.
Outside of her time with the students and IEC staff, Melanie was also able to meet with various departments across campus such as the Housing Office, Business Office, Office of Community Engagement, and the Writing and Tutoring centers. Meeting with these offices allowed her to gain a better understanding of what support services are available to Global UGRAD students.
World Learning would like to extend its gratitude to GCSU, the International Education Center, and Jason Wynn for their instrumental role in ensuring the success of this site visit. GCSU has proven to be an invaluable host partner that cares deeply for its students and World Learning is excited to work with them in the future!
University of Mississippi
Sarah Halligan, a Program Officer at World Learning, had the opportunity to visit another amazing host partner: the University of Mississippi. While there, she met with Olivia George, the International Student Advisor and World Learning contact for the fall semester. She also had the opportunity to meet with the five Global UGRAD students placed there.
The students had only good things to say about this campus and their experience. Seeing it in person was helpful to view how the campus was laid out and understand what the experience of being a student looked like. The school itself has numerous events and clubs the students can take part in to stay busy and make new connections. The current Global UGRAD students have taken advantage of this by joining many different groups and attending a variety of the activities offered.
Sarah was able to join the Global UGRAD students for a meal at one of the two main dining facilities on campus. This dining hall had a wide selection of cuisines and the students said the different food options were changed every day so they never got tired of the food. There are also several food vendor options around campus where they could buy meals and even use the extra money given to them as part of their meal plan. Sarah was excited to sit with them and have the opportunity to hear about their classes and how their schedules were going.
A unique feature of the University of Mississippi is its Southern Studies program. While most Global UGRAD participants are not majoring in this field of study, the program offers many interesting courses that provide them with a special opportunity to take classes about the state in which they are living. To further explore academics at the University of Mississippi, Sarah also sat in on one Global UGRAD student’s Politics 101 class. It is another great option for a U.S. studies course and presents basic information about the U.S. government.