Project #4: Office of Student Affairs Domestic and International Listening Sessions

By Amelious N. Whyte and Marjorie Savage

Key Findings

A. Benefits of Meeting Students from Another Country:

Shared By International Students

  • Understanding different cultures/overcoming challenges adjusting to the US
  • Networking
  • Learning language; Learning tolerance

Shared By Domestic Students

  • The point of college is to meet new people, learn about new cultures, and learn about the world
  • New interactions facilitate deeper understanding of your own culture and yourself
  • Future jobs—will have to work in diverse settings with people who are different from you

B. What Makes Domestic and International Students Inclined to Meet Each Other?

  • Cultural exchange or mutual benefit
  • Wanting to make new friends (freshmen especially)
  • Interest in knowing about different perspectives
  • Having the outgoing personality to reach out to students
  • Seeing each other on a continuous basis (class, work, etc.)
  • Similar professional goals

C. Challenges to Forming Relationships with Domestic Students

  • Feeling self-conscious
  • Cultural differences
  • Language barrier
  • U.S. personality
  • Academics

D. What Makes Domestic and International Students Disinclined to Meet Each Other?

  • Language, cultural barriers (e.g., American culture intimidates some)
  • Past negative experiences with international students
  • Unsure of appropriate interactions with internationals and fear of offending
  • Intimidated by large groups of international students
  • Lack of understanding
  • Not knowing where to meet international students
  • The belief that international students are only in the United States to get their education and then will return to their home country
  • Hygiene and personal habits

What Findings Suggest for Our Campus

A. What is needed to build positive experiences?

  • American student curiosity and support
  • Being outgoing (both International and Domestic Students)
  • Branching out of usual comfort zone (both International and Domestic Students)
  • Social environment to encourage interactions (both International and Domestic Students)

B. Recommendations from students

Shared By International Students

  • Build international students’ confidence
  • Leverage engagement opportunities
  • Promote activities to international students
  • Help Americans care more about meeting international students and be more curious
  • Support classroom instruction for international students

Shared By Domestic Students

  • Incorporate cultural competence into orientation, welcome week, and initial experiences on campus
  • Intentionally pair international and domestic students in residence halls
  • Purposeful classroom/academic work integration
  • Enhance global/cultural competence
  • Give more attention and visibility for multicultural events on campus
  • Intentionally encourage domestic students to reach out to international students

Other Information

OSA has already implemented several initiatives in order to increase international student engagement, including:

  • Discussions with Minnesota International Student Association (MISA)
  • Soccer game for new international students
  • Intercultural Communication and Staff Development Graduate Assistant
  • Parents Weekend Programming

OSA is also considering how to best implement several other initiatives, including:

  • Tips for connecting with students from a different country
  • Intentional outreach to international student groups about OSA resources
  • Ongoing international student “focus group” and advisory board
  • Introduction to American football for international students
  • OSA International Ambassadors