Every college student knows the feeling of leaving their homes to start their independent journeys at college. They all feel the similar knots in their stomach and shaking of their hands. However, moving away from home can be even more intimidating for international students.
Ohio University’s Global Ambassadors Program is designed to relieve some of the stress that comes with moving to a foreign country for college.
“The Global Ambassadors Program is really a program that's focused on building a community of support for international students,” Aanya Datta, a Global Ambassador and a junior studying psychology, said. “We have to be a support system and help each other navigate through life in college and life in a strange, foreign country.”
Global Ambassadors are passionate international undergraduate students whose desire is to help other international students acclimate to their new environments.
“To be an ambassador, you have to be an undergrad student,” Beckham Low, a Global Ambassador and junior studying biological sciences, said. “You also have to be an international student, and you have to have a strong passion for being in a group setting.”
Their work includes bi-weekly meetings, social media efforts and recruiting more international students, according to OU’s Undergraduate Admissions.
“The best experience, I'll say, is meeting bi-weekly, because it feels like I'm meeting all the international students,” Tithi Patel, a Global Ambassador and a junior studying nursing, said.
To become an ambassador, students must fill out an application on OU’s Undergraduate Admissions website and then complete an interview.
The expectations of an ambassador include attending the meetings and engaging and helping international students with any questions they may have.
“You need to keep an open mind while talking to people,” Datta said. “Be empathetic, be patient and be ready to help.”
Many international students do not have the same opportunity as other students to visit OU’s campus before moving there, so Global Ambassadors provide additional resources to help them acclimate.
“We have student welcome days throughout the academic year for high school students that are in the region, but international students don't get to experience any of that,” Datta said. “It's like we never see campus until the day that we actually start like the day we land, so it's very foreign.”
Patel said she and the other Global Ambassadors are fellow students who are more than willing to help, and she hopes international students reach out to them with anything they need.
Low said it is important for international students to take advantage of that resource because it is reward for the ambassador and mentee.
“Don't be scared to apply — don't be shy, just express how you feel about being an international student,” Low said. “I know there aren't a lot of international students here in Ohio, but as being one of them, you get to represent your country, and I think that's the most fun part of being an Ambassador.”