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ISSS planning activities to welcome 140 new international students to WKU

WKU’s Office of International Student and Scholar Services is planning several welcome and orientation activities for the arrival of 140 new international students for the fall 2012 semester.

According to NAFSA: Association of International Educators, there were 723,000 foreign students living in the United States during the 2010-11 academic year, contributing approximately $21 billion to the U.S. economy. Approximately 5,111 of those students attended schools in Kentucky.

A picnic with WKU President Gary Ransdell and his wife, Julie, will be held Aug. 22 as part of the activities to welcome new international students to campus.

WKU is a state leader in regards to recruitment, enrollment and retention of international students and had the third highest enrollment with about 650 international students enrolled. Calculating tuition, fees, living expenses and dependents, it is estimated that these students contribute more than $15 million to Bowling Green’s economy.

To secure admittance to a U.S. university, international students complete many tasks and tests to prove language proficiency, academic readiness and financial security. Once a student is accepted to WKU, ISSS communicates with the student and facilitates the student’s visa application.

On Aug. 21, students will arrive on WKU’s campus from Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Burma, Canada, Chile, China, Ecuador, France, Germany, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, UAE, Uganda, Venezuela and Vietnam.

For these students, there is much to learn about living in the U.S. and making the most of their time at WKU.

“A great deal of planning, time and energy goes into making the international orientation a meaningful success,” said Jason Swift, WKU ISSS advisor. “The first stop for the new students is the check-in process where they must present their immigration documents to us so their information is verified for registration with the Department of Homeland Security. This year, 16 current WKU international students will assist ISSS with check-in. This gives our students the opportunity to welcome the new arrivals and it helps us expedite registration.”

On Aug. 22, ISSS will offer an extensive orientation program that addresses many issues, including immigration information, academic resources, course registration, cultural adjustment, WKU services and departments, upcoming social events, campus tours, housing assistance, classroom expectations, and much more. The orientation is designed to give students vital information and the necessary tools to hit the ground running on the first day of class. It also covers practical topics such as opening a bank account, acquiring a cell phone, obtaining a driver’s license, using public transportation, where to buy household items and groceries, and more.

“ISSS carefully orchestrates the week of orientation with the student’s needs in mind. We want to give them all the necessary information and tools to succeed at WKU,” said Sarah Van Alebeek, WKU ISSS advisor. “For many students, ISSS serves as a home away from home while they are attending school at WKU.”

On the evening of Aug. 22, WKU President Gary A. Ransdell will host a picnic at his home to welcome the new international students. “The president truly enjoys hosting new international students at his home. It is a great way for new students to meet one another as well as administrators, faculty and staff at the university,” Van Alebeek said.

ISSS also will offer shuttle services for the new students as they prepare for the fall semester.

“In the past, we offered students a one-time shuttle service to Wal-Mart.  However, this year ISSS is expanding the services we offer to include an additional shuttle for the two weeks leading up to the start of classes,” Van Alebeek said. “This shuttle is an important resource for new students as it gives them the opportunity to buy necessities for their dorm or apartment and settle in before school begins. Beginning Aug. 13 to Aug. 24, students will be able to board the shuttle in front of the ISSS office and it will take them at regular intervals to Wal-Mart and the Greenwood Mall.”

On Aug. 24, members of Living Hope Baptist Church will provide new students with a tour of the city of Bowling Green, fellowship and a hot meal. This tour concludes the week of orientation and provides another avenue to welcome and help them acclimate to their new surroundings.

“ISSS puts a high priority on orientation week because it introduces our new students to the campus and community, and is therefore a key initial step toward a successful experience at WKU,” said Beth Murphy, ISSS Assistant Director.

Contact: Diana Howard, (270) 745-4857.

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