SRU prepares to welcome more than 40 students from abroad

International Flags

Aug. 11, 2017

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - For more than three-dozen new freshman, exchange and transfer students who will be arriving on campus this fall, Slippery Rock University is quite literally "a world away."

These adventurous undergraduates hailing from Japan, India, Belgium, Turkey and Hungary have not let 20-hour, transoceanic flights, stacks of paperwork or the fear of the unknown stand in their way. On the contrary, students say they consider packing their lives into multiple suitcases and leaving home a small price to pay for the quality education they will receive.

Despite the students enthusiasm, Noora Alie, assistant director for international student services, recognizes the many challenges they will encounter during their transition to the United States.

This is why Alie will be facilitating a New International Student Orientation as part of the Office for Global Engagement's goal to "continuously improve support for international students for their successful navigation of the University and community."

The four-day orientation, Aug. 22-25, will allow incoming international students to "meet and greet" the campus community, all while learning many of the ins and outs of an American collegiate experience. The program will include campus tours, scheduling classes, participating in immigration seminars, listening to department presentations and setting up personal bank accounts.

The orientation serves as a "welcome to the neighborhood" and a chance for Alie and her staff to extend SRU hospitality.

"Once the students are here, we'll greet them with small welcome baskets, with things like linens, snacks, toiletries; essentials they're going to need and might not have thought of prior to their journey," said Alie. "Our first priority is just getting them to campus and making sure they have somewhere safe to stay."

Throughout the week, Alie and her volunteers will provide around-the-clock care, offering the international students everything from transportation and shopping excursions to evening pizza dinners in the Office of Global Engagement's lounge.

"While we hope to offer the essentials, a lot of these students won't come with things like bedding or pillows," said Alie. "We're looking to get them situated, but also just to have a fun time out on the town, making connections with each other and with us. We're the first people they will get to interact with at the University and that often gives us a tight bond from the start."

The orientation's primary agenda is to create lasting relationships and memorable experiences that will carry the students through their SRU experience. With that in mind, each international student will be matched with a special mentor called a global ambassador.

"Global ambassadors are returning American students who want to get to know international students personally and help them throughout the coming semester," Alie explained. "They'll meet bi-weekly for exciting events during the fall and even take group trips together."

One such trip will take place Aug. 24. Following a morning filled with ESL placement tests, library tours and academic scheduling, the group will visit Pittsburgh's Strip District, ride the Duquesne Incline and finish with dinner at The Waterfront, a shopping destination with more than 70 stores, restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues along the Monongahela River.

"That day is about breaking the ice with each other and just getting to enjoy the city," Alie said. "While we normally schedule a Pittsburgh trip during the semester, this is the first time we have chosen to incorporate it into the orientation."

International students will also enjoy the opportunity to break bread with Philip Way, SRU interim president, along with deans, chairpersons and global ambassadors during an Aug. 25 "Picnic with the President" event. The luncheon will serve as a closing ceremony for the NISO.

"Participating in something like this is going to be a very meaningful time for our international students," Alie said. "Many of them are shy, but they are looking to take that first step of interaction, to just say hello to someone new and make a connection.

Establishing that early acceptance on campus, Alie explained, is critical to the long-term success of the international students.

"A warm smile and welcoming attitude makes all of the difference for someone new to not only our campus, but our country," said Alie. "SRU has a culture as a compassionate and caring community and I'm sure our domestic students will do all they can to make our visitors feel at home."

For more information or to assist with the event, contact Alie at 724.738.4687 or noora.alie@sru.edu.

MEDIA CONTACT: Maizee Zaccone | 724.738.2091 | mxz1016@sru.edu