Host Partner Feature: Nazareth University

This month, World Learning is excited to feature Nazareth University which has two Global UGRAD students attending this semester. Laura Barnard, Assistant Director of the Center for International Education, was kind enough to answer some questions about herself and the university:

A picture of Laura Barnard
Laura Barnard, Assistant Director of Center for International Education at Nazareth University

How long have you been working at Nazareth University and what is your role? 

I’ve been at Nazareth University (formerly Nazareth College) for 10 years as the Assistant Director of the Center for International Education where I serve as the primary contact for all incoming international students, whether they be exchange, visiting, or matriculating students. From the point of application through orientation to graduation, I get to accompany international students on their academic journey. Although my official role is to oversee their visas, academics, accommodations and activities, what makes this job special is the opportunity to get to know students as they struggle, grow, and learn through their intercultural experience in the U.S. and at Nazareth University.

What does your orientation for international students involve?

In the fall, students join the larger four-day orientation program that involves workshops, campus tours, icebreakers, social events, and service projects. In the spring, incoming international students attend a full day of informational workshops, a campus tour, and mingling. We generally go out together for a typical American brunch that weekend and attend the annual “Battle of the Beaks” – a basketball game where Nazareth University squares off against our rival, St. John Fisher University, to raise funds for the local children’s hospital.

What is one of your favorite events or activities your campus hosts for international students?

Each semester we take students to Niagara Falls. When weather permits, we ride the Maid of the Mist, a boat that brings us close enough to the falls to get sprayed by the mist.

A picture of a fountain with large stones in an amphitheater set up that people could sit on.
Peace Garden and Fountain at Nazareth University

What makes Nazareth unique and what is your favorite place on campus?

Nazareth has a beautiful, cozy campus and a very welcoming community. Professors and staff invest a lot of time and effort in getting to know students individually and work to create a sense of belonging for all. My favorite place on campus is our Peace Garden and Fountain at the entrance of campus. It is landscaped with large stones to sit on, so faculty often hold classes there on sunny days. Students gather informally to hang out there, and we also host events like picnics, yard games, and food truck festivals there.

An aerial view of the campus of Nazareth University

What has been the impact of Global UGRAD students at your university?

Many of our domestic students haven’t traveled internationally and don’t take advantage of the study abroad options we offer, so bringing international students to campus from places they are unlikely to go on their own provides the chance for our community to engage the world in a personal way through the relationships they form with students from other countries. I have found it to be particularly useful in classes when our UGRAD students chime in with diverse perspectives on a topic and enrich the community’s overall learning by doing so. I’d also add that UGRAD students tend to be engaging, intelligent, and thoughtful students who manage to develop long-lasting friendships – the impact of these relationships ripples beyond campus and into the lives, politics, and worldviews of those they meet.

What advice would you give to an incoming Global UGRAD student?

Come with an open mind and heart, and you will be perfectly fine! When you feel overwhelmed and get that feeling of fight or flight (which is a normal stage in the process of culture crossing), don’t be afraid to speak with your on-campus advisor, professors, or peers. We are here to support you and there’s almost nothing we can’t work through.