Monday, August 22, 2016 New Activities Provide Excitement for International Welcome
The arrival experience for many international students coming to the U.S. for the first time can be full of the unknown – new language, new culture, new customs, new faces, new academic environment and more. This year the international welcome team piloted increased efforts to welcome students as soon as they arrive in Lincoln.
The international welcome team, comprised of 24 domestic and international undergraduates from 10 countries, greeted incoming students at the Lincoln Airport and helped students board free shuttles to campus.
We know from anecdotes and from assessment data that the airport welcome sets the tone for a great welcome experience,” said Teresa Lostroh, coordinator of orientation activities for New Student Enrollment. “This was the first year we’ve done the shuttle, and students told us over and over again that they were so much less anxious about their arrival because they knew the university would be there to help from the moment they got off the plane all the way until they got to their residence hall.”
Throughout the three-day welcome program, the team greeted 223 incoming students from 23 countries. Upon arrival to campus, the welcome extended further with downtown walking tours, a tour of Memorial Stadium, a tour of the Nebraska State Capitol, soccer at Mabel Lee Fields, meals downtown, sunset yoga hosted by Campus Recreation and a visit to Morrill Hall.
The international student orientation began on Wednesday, Aug. 17 with approximately 500 students. Throughout orientation students learned about requirements for their college or program, resources on campus and how to succeed as a UNL student. They also gained access to campus essentials like the student ID card, bus passes, and setting up bank accounts.
Following the orientation, more than 250 students connected with one another at the International Welcome Party in the East Campus Union. Co-sponsored by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, the event included a dance with international music selections, karaoke, board games, bowling, pool and more.
“Watching the students dance and karaoke at the welcome party was a neat display of how music crosses cultures. People from all over the world were doing the activities together. It was great to see them connect through something that they all could relate to,” said Lostroh.
The University Housing Intercultural Aides and International Student Fellowship offered additional activities for international students living on campus. Activities included shopping trips at Walmart, a pizza and pancake feed, a game night, a welcome picnic, and ping pong night.
New Student Enrollment indicated that the program produced the results they’d hoped for with hundreds of comments about the friendly and helpful people at UNL.
“I think it shows that Nebraska Nice makes a difference,” said Lostroh. “My favorite comment came from our assessment where a student told us that UNL felt like a big family. He or she said that ‘Your Story Matters’ meant a lot and he or she was really loving it.”
As the semester continues, the University Housing Intercultural Aides and the NSE International Welcome Team will continue to provide programs specifically designed for the international population. Upcoming Housing activities include mini-golf, bowling, go-karts, arcade fun and the downtown festival on Friday, Aug. 26; and Pokémon Go at the Henry Doorly Zoo on Saturday, Aug. 27. NSE’s welcome team will host one social program each month throughout the fall and spring semesters.