Fresno State International Student Services and Programs (ISSP) welcomed 169 international students from across the globe during an International Student Orientation in the Satellite Student Union.
More than 100 new undergraduate students and 53 new graduate students flew in from countries such as Germany, Malaysia, Japan and South Korea, checked into the university and were provided with informational presentations and workshops put on by student international ambassadors.
International ambassadors like Sagnik Mitra, an electrical engineering major, who once checked into the orientation as a first-time international student, waited with his fellow ambassadors and volunteers to welcome arriving students. Their goal was to make the orientation interactive and inclusive.
“They [students] came all the way from their home, so they’re kind of homesick,” Mitra said. “We’ve made some role plays. We told them about the rules and regulations of Fresno State [and] how they should deal with their first semester. We pretty much make them acquainted with all the things they should know before school starts.”
Mitra spoke of his own experience acclimating to life in the U.S., stating that choice of companions helps the adjustment.
“For me, I didn’t choose a group before I came here. So once I got here, I checked in and I learned the process of how they told me to get involved,” Mitra said. “I came to know about the groups, and then I got involved with the groups. It depends on how you do the research or how you manage things. It’s completely based on you.”
Along with the role-play scenarios demonstrating U.S. cultural customs and laws, ISSP hosted its own resource fair, inviting clubs and organizations to encourage student participation.
“We notice that international students are more shy their first semester, so we try to help them get involved with more students,” said Shiho Kurogi, an international ambassador majoring in business-marketing.
These student volunteers and the international ambassadors work to remain allies of the incoming students as they adjust and hope to see other domestic students be just as welcoming.
“We have an accent, and we don’t really speak perfect English. Then we talk to domestic students and sometimes we are really shy or we can see that they don’t understand us fully,” Kurogi said. “That’s why [the ambassadors] are more open to helping them not be shy and to get involved.”
Eventually these students can also work to become international ambassadors themselves to share their own experiences, much like Sujin Kim, a business-accounting major.
“For me, I was an international student first. Then I had a chance to apply for ambassador and I thought it looked cool to help other students because we understand how other students feel, and what they are struggling with,” Kim said. “We are so happy to help.”