Tuesday May 29, 2012

Welcoming the World

New center and residences bring together international and U.S. students for multicultural engagement and understanding.

The bar was set pretty high a few years ago when the University of Dayton topped an international student satisfaction survey. But, the University is prepared to jump over it and then some.

With a dramatic increase in international students, the University of Dayton has expanded the Center for International Programs to better provide services for and foster engagement between international and U.S. students.

Starting in fall 2012, international students will have more opportunities to share their cultures in the Global Learning Living Community housed in the new $25 million Caldwell Street Apartments.

The University has set records for the number of incoming international students the past two years, and international students now make up more than 10 percent of the student body. The new Center for International Programs in the Rike Center is large enough to give international students, as well as the increasing number of domestic students interested in education abroad and multicultural activities, a one-stop shop to meet their needs.

"Having all of our services in the same building has been good for all of us, especially the students. It's easier for the students to find instructors and access the resources they need, and it fosters more engagement between international and U.S. students," said Tina Manco, associate director for partnership and exchanges for the center.

Now international students can head to Rike Center in the heart of campus for Intensive English Program classes, immigration advising, workshops and orientation, as well as social and extracurricular activities. Although international students are a significant portion of the center's clientele, the increasing number of domestic students interested in education abroad and multicultural activities on campus also find a home at Rike.

The Rike Center also features a conference room, six classrooms — some with private spaces for students to complete exams — a reception area, a lounge, a kitchen to prepare food for small gatherings and events, offices for the Intensive English Program and visiting international scholars, individual meeting rooms, and a prayer space for Muslim students that includes an area for ablution. 

Plus, the Rike Center is conveniently located next to St. Mary's Hall, home to Flyers First, where all University of Dayton students can save time on tasks such as picking up transcripts and meeting with financial aid and academic counselors.

Domestic students have a quick, easy-to-find resource for questions about a particular country while in the study-abroad office. A short walk down the hallway or downstairs to the World Exchange Lounge to check with an international student usually yields an answer.

The new center is one of the many places on campus U.S. and international students have opportunities to share cultures.

Interest has increased in the University's "Friends of" programs, in which international students share their culture with others, and Culture Fest, during which students can sample international foods and mingle with students from different cultures.

When nearly 400 students move into the Global Learning Living Community, they will find a spacious courtyard and common spaces between buildings for mingling and community functions. They will participate in international dinners, panel discussions with faculty members and off-campus excursions to explore cultures of countries across the world and within the U.S.

Special design features are incorporated into the Caldwell Street Apartments to accommodate cultural needs of students, such as more two-bedroom, two-bath units to allow for more privacy. Future plans may include an international marketplace.

"There is a wonderful international presence to be found on our campus, and we are always looking to improve ways to foster global relationships," said Amy Anderson, Center for International Programs director. "We want to treat all of our students to a welcoming environment, and one that helps our international students get the most out of their time in the U.S."

For more information, contact Shawn Robinson, associate director of news and communications, at 937-229-3391 or srobinson@udayton.edu.