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Miguel Gomez stands with photos from Mexico in Gordy Hall at Ohio University on October 14, 2014. Gomez is originally from Mexico and is a senior studying astrophysics. 

OU's International Student Union hopes new app, website drive participation, turnout

Starting this fall, international Bobcats will use new technology to improve communication with domestic students.

It’s an innovation spearheaded by the International Student Union.

“Last year, we didn’t have a good turnout for domestic students,” Miguel Gomez, vice president of ISU, said. “A lot of them did not consistently come to the international events.”

Members have already begun to tackle this in a technological way through plans of an app and online ticketing for the ISU organizations and its events.

Gomez is creating a website and an app called “Uniique Culture” to eliminate the limited sharing experience of Facebook events at OU.

“I am creating a social networking website where anyone who is interested in a specific country can use this website and find students, orgs and events (at OU),” he said. “Especially if you’re a new student, it’s a great way to connect.”

The app and website will launch in early September, Gomez said, and will eventually branch out for other organizations as well.

Ohio University international students arrive in Athens two weeks before anyone else to have an international orientation from the university. Classes are scheduled, followed by a week of socials, tours and preparation for living in the United States.

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Hannah Borowski, a sophomore studying global studies and political science, said there is profound importance in helping international students feel welcome at OU because of how different it is to go to school in another country.  

“It’s hard for domestic students, including myself, to comprehend that they are going through something way different than we are,” Borowski, the marketing and public relations director of ISU, said. “When it comes to language difference, cultural differences, they’re not just going to school, they’re starting a whole new life, so it’s not only for international students to feel welcome, but also for them to feel equal with us.”

The summer has been an opportunity for the executive board of ISU to think about what accomplishments they want to achieve this school year.

Other improvements are slowly being made to the current ISU website, which OU manages, to resolve ticketing limitations. Previously, tickets were only available to buy in-person at Baker University Center.

“They don’t really provide us the service to let people pay for our (tickets) online,” Ibrahim Huthman, webmaster for ISU, said.

Huthman said he’s looking at a different way to link online ticketing or reservations for international events to the website.

“That’s something we’re looking forward to doing because it will make it more accessible to more people and organizations,” said the second-year graduate student studying civil engineering.

Bridging communication between domestic and international has always been a priority for the organization, but this starts internally.

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“I’m pretty optimistic,” Gomez said. “I have some great ideas, and I have a good team. It’s the team that matters most. Last year, one of the main problems was communication, and I feel like this team has a lot of communication already.”


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