Dressed in sombreros and saris, student senators saw several presentations Wednesday about international students at Ohio University and the university’s global policies.
Organized by International Affairs Commissioner Hashim Pashtun, Ohio Program of Intensive English (OPIE) Director Gerry Krzic and Vice Provost for Global Affairs Lorna Jean Edmonds spoke to Student Senate about what the university has accomplished in the international sphere as well as the strides it can take in the future.
“I can really feel like I am at an international event now,” Pashtun said, referencing the senators’ multicultural attire and the international flags lining the walls of the room.
Pashtun outlined some key statistics with regards to international students at Ohio University, stating that the university enrolled 1,800 international students last year, half of them from China. A total of 115 countries are represented in the university’s student body.
Speaking on behalf of OPIE, Krzic said international students face many challenges at Ohio University.
“I’d like to introduce a program that is often the front door for many international students that come to campus,” Krzic said. “People say ‘Oh, you teach students English.’ Trust me, it’s much more than that.”
Krzic said the language barrier international students often face is in addition to a learning barrier. This learning barrier occurs when international students have to adapt to a Western-style education and class structure. Krzic said he considers it his job to help address these challenges through education.
Krzic encouraged Senate to form a stronger relationship with OPIE and to spend more time encouraging other students to learn about OPIE’s programs, such as international conversation hour.
Edmonds, speaking on behalf of the university administration, focused on describing her broad efforts to bring Ohio University to the global — or even universal — playing field. She stressed the importance that students graduate with international experience, especially in the current job market.
“Our job is to create a campus that is diverse and gives you an opportunity to answer and explore the globe right here, because not everyone gets to travel abroad,” Edmonds said.
Edmonds was hired by the university last August to help formulate a strategy for globalization. Her office has plans to announce a strategy by November.
Edmonds applauded the university’s progress in certain areas of global policy, citing Alden Library’s international collections and programs such as the International Space University. She said Senate could help by reaching out to students and creating closer relationships to bodies like the International Student Union.
“If we want to be successful as a university, we have to create a legacy,” Edmonds said. “So that in 10 years we can look back and say…‘Where can we send you, and where do you want to go?’ ”
Senate also saw a presentation from the Office of Information Technology, which detailed future upgrades to Blackboard, the expansion of the Baker University Center technology depot to accommodate a merger with Bobcat Essentials, and an expansion of student services. The office is looking into a membership with Microsoft’s Student Advantage, which would provide all enrolled students a license for Microsoft Office 365.