International and domestic students grabbed Oreo cookies and juice before they found a seat in the Back Alley. A sea of both new and familiar faces gathered for the International Programs Office welcome event Friday, Feb. 4 to kick off the start of incoming international and exchange students’ experience at Augustana University.
Heather Edmunds Reed is the assistant director for IPO operations. With the help of her team, she coordinated the event with the goal of introducing the incoming spring international students to other Augustana students.
“We had a nice mix of international and domestic students,” Reed said. “Ultimately, we want to promote cultural exchange not just with international students but also with domestic students, so it’s always great when we can get everyone together.”
The welcome event took place on the heels of international students’ orientation which happened on the Monday and Tuesday before the spring term began. Most of the students had arrived on Sunday, Jan. 30. International and exchange students participated in orientation classes, campus tours and went shopping for dorm essentials with Augustana Cultural Exchange ambassadors, who are domestic and older international student volunteers.
At the welcoming event, students participated in a BINGO activity where they had to ask people questions on BINGO squares to see if the question applied to them. If a question did, the student would sign their name on the square. At the end of the activity, only a few students were able to acquire a BINGO.
Quadri Yekinni is a master’s student from Nigeria. He said at first he didn’t understand the purpose of the event, but once he saw the interaction facilitated by BINGO, he understood.
“When I started seeing people talk to each other forcefully, I saw it’s engaging people and forcing people to talk to each other, which they really enjoy.”
Yekinni signed his name on a number of BINGO squares — favorite color is blue, can play basketball, owns a car, took more than one flight — which allowed him to meet new people outside of orientation. A few student leaders of clubs on campus spoke about their organizations and international student leaders gave advice about transitioning to life on campus.
“I got to get some information that I didn’t have before,” Yekinni said. “Being an international student, you get a bit nervous. Hearing from them that they had been through that before, it really calmed me down.”
Yekinni said he was able to talk with international students from African countries about places to find African food and ingredients in Sioux Falls. After hearing about the various clubs on campus, Yekinni said he is interested in joining the African Student Union and Women in STEM because they offer a welcoming community and free food.
Overall, Reed was pleased with the outcome of the event.
“Augustana always shows up when it comes to welcoming our international students,” Reed said. “Whether it be at orientation earlier this week or at our orientation today, we have students here and ready to understand that these international students have gone on a big journey to be here, and they are ready to open their arms to them.”
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