Resources for International Students

Cishella Durling: Hi everyone. Welcome to another episode of the Student Affairs podcast series. My name is Cishella Durling, and I'm going to be your host today. I'm really excited for this podcast episode today, we're going to be talking with Janice Kim, who is the director of the International Student and Scholar Services that is a part of the International Students Center. So, we're going to just go ahead and jump right into this interview. Thank you so much, Janice, for being here with us today and my question is, what are some of the resources available on campus and off campus that international students might find they need access to?

Kim, Janice: Well, thank you so much for having me. You know, leaving home and traveling to a new country can be a frightening experience. Many students will experience a new language, a new social reality, a new culture, and that can certainly be a new environment for many international students. Additionally, the Office of International Students and Scholar Services, we assist with all matters related to immigration compliance. So, the International Office provides the needed immigration documents to help international students apply for the necessary visa to come to the U.S. the study. They were also responsible in fulfilling the institutions, the legal responsibility for international students, enrollment information, their employment, and immigration compliance to the U.S. government. So, it's very important that the International Office provides these resources and information to all F1 and J1 visa holders. So, most of all what we do at the International Scholar Services, we help mostly with F1 and J1 visa holders. So, it's important that the International Center focuses on enriching international students support success by serving as the main liaison office for immigration advising, international compliance, assistance with culture and campus acclimation, and much more. I can go on and on. And I know you mentioned you're asking, what are some of the resources available on campus? So, I'll kind of talk a little bit more about on campus. And I'll also tell talk about some of the community resources that international students really need.

As I mentioned before, the International Office, we're responsible for all things related to immigration compliance and students support success. For new international students, the International Office, we ensure that they are oriented, and they are inundated with pertinent information needed to be a successful UofL Cardinal and as an international student. So, the International Office, we would provide, during the course of the semester, educational and information workshops and I'll give you an example; we do work authorization workshops. We do tax compliance workshops. There are programs and events such as during the International Education Week, we did in the fall semester, which was a week-long programming, we worked with campus partners. One of the highlights was we did something called ¬— you get to taste all kind of food and all cultural foods, and it’s just such an amazing event—we called it the ‘Taste of Nations’ and so, students and anyone from different backgrounds, were able to join us and cook and share their culture and share their food from their home country, with other people on campus.

So, you know, we throw a lot of other programming for our international students. And one of the best partners on campus are the International Students and Scholar Services have established is through the various student organizations. These groups have offices on the lower level of the International Center for students to come and meet, they play, they eat. These are spaces for international students to just freely come in and just debrief. These groups also provide international students with the opportunity to build not only a sense of belonging, but also helps engage with the campus community and other students. The two specifics student organizations I would like to highlight today is Oasis, which stands for Organization Assisting and Serving International Students and Scholars, thus the word Oasis, which is very fitting. And ISC, which currently stands for the International Student Council. These two groups, they specifically focus on assisting international students to feel welcome, not only to the US, but to the city of Louisville. These are recognized student organizations on campus. They will help you with anywhere from airport pickups, temporary housing, talking, taking you to the Social Security Office to obtain a Social Security number—and I'll talk about that a little more during our community resources— shopping trips. During breaks they will take you on field trips. Recently OASIS went to Tennessee, Gatlinburg. And so, some of these real great student organizations partner up with the International Office to really help our students just feel that sense of belonging. There are weekly events that provide so much enrichment experiences from cultural discussions, English language enhancements, Friday night soccer games—our international students really love soccer. The ISSS office just we just have plethora of resources and events offered for international students and scholars.

Some of the community resources that I just mentioned above, you know, just prior to this is, you know, many international students who are authorized to work need a Social Security number. Some would decide that they would like to begin driving and obtain a driver's license. International students need a U.S. bank when they arrive. So, what else? Most of their SIM cards will not work in the U.S., so students may need a new phone. A lot of people do not understand that these are actual basic community resources that international students need. We have specific representatives from some of these entities that participate in the new international student orientation each semester, and they specifically help international students set up a U.S. bank account. The Kentucky Transportation has provided specific details on how to apply for driver's license as an international student. T-Mobile comes to the orientation to help students obtain a phone. So, just these simple community resources, that we all think as being basic, is so significant to these international students. I just briefly talked about the work authorization workshops. We actually have immigration lawyers from the community that participate in these workshops. So, the community comes on campus to further enhance some of these resources for international students. You know, these immigration lawyers come and they talk about possible extensions of their stay. What other work opportunities as they come close to graduation. So, some of these resources that we may think as being not really community resources, are very necessary and it's such a huge help for our international students when they first come and arrive in the United States.

Cishella Durling: That’s fantastic. That was a lot of community and university resources, but that is great to know. I sit here and think of if I were to go to a different country, what tools am I going to need to be successful? And it's great to know that the International Center, specifically the International Student and Scholar Services, provides access to these resources that are vital for their success. So, I think it's fantastic that there are so many different resources available. So, how would an international student go about requesting any of these services? Now, I've heard you mentioned that there is an International Center on campus. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Janice Kim: Absolutely. So, the International Center is located in Jouett Hall, on the Belknap campus, and the International Student Scholar Services Office, is on the 2nd floor of the International Center. We also have students on our HSC campus, on our Health Science campus. So, we also run an office there, the first Thursday of each month, for students who may have difficulties in coming to the Belknap. So, we try to service our international students and scholars also on the HSC campus. If there's anything that students need, you know, obviously we're all available now through Teams and these various, you know, virtually. But if a student wants to just get a cup of coffee, come on by, we are available. We are open from Monday through Friday, 8:30 to 4:30. And there are international student advisors that specifically have advising times that students, you know, they will meet with at least one advisor if necessary. We have dedicated times because we, as international advisors and staff, really recognize and want to provide exemplary services. And so, we've also implemented that dedicated office hours for students.

Cishella Durling: That's wonderful. And I'm sure that the students really, really appreciate the fact that you guys are very accessible. So, last question for you, in what ways is the International Center aiming to provide additional resources to international students in the future?

Janice Kim: Absolutely. So, a key part in sustaining diversity involves investing in welcoming new international students to college campuses. We want to make sure we really orient them. We really welcome them and that good news of ‘Oh wow, they're really welcoming campus!’ really spreads out all over the world. So, beginning Fall 2023 semester, and I really want to emphasize this because this is where I believe all the support services begins; the International Office will be conducting a 2-day orientation, which is very new. Previous to my time here, it used to be maybe 1/2-day orientation and looking at some of our benchmark institutions and some of our colleagues, and even data out there says that that's not enough. And so, there's different needs, you know, there's even different needs for the international population. So, the ISSS will be expanding its services to ensure these students are truly oriented to the information needed to the community and campus resources. There are different needs from the undergraduate with the graduate, even within the international student population. So, we are also in the process of hiring new staff members, one of which will focus directly on just student support success. So, we're really hoping for that position to come into fruition. And so, we're hoping for some increase in our international student mobility. So, we have to be prepared. One of the things that we really need to prepare is this orientation because as soon as these students come—and you know, most people don't understand this, but the International Office, we really have to develop support services from day one when they are admitted to the to the institution, because the immigration documents start there. Then we have to also help them prep their arrival into the United States. So, we have information, communications, newsletters, where even—and I'm sure my assistant Vice President will appreciate me mentioning this in today's podcast—we are implementing a new software called Teradata, which will make everyone's life easy. I mean really that resource in itself is maybe one or two full time employees just in the ISSS staff office and it will help us just really navigate some of these paper trails. And so we're really looking forward to this platform to really—and communication will be instant, you know there's a lot of things that we've been doing manually, but boy this, I'm sure my AVP is probably appreciative of what I say on this but, Teradata is going to make all the students feel, you know, that they're documents and their services are not delayed. It's not being delayed and it's really, you know, ‘they're wow, they're really fast’. In this global world, everything we must have it done yesterday and we will. And so, we want to be able to help our new increase in the international mobility and Teradata will help us do that. And we're ready to welcome all these new international students to the campus.

Cishella Durling: Wonderful! It sounds like there's some exciting things happening within the International Center and more services for the International Students and Scholar Services to offer to them. So that's fantastic. I'm really happy to hear about these upcoming changes that all of the international students and really, truly everybody on campus, can see in the future. So, thank you, Janice, so much for your time. Well, go ahead and wrap this up with did you know the international students and Scholar Services website has a list of resources for current and potential international students and scholars. That's Alright everyone, we'll see you next time.


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