International Education takes student engagement online

Victoria Olaleye, Reporter

The office of international education continues to engage students virtually for the rest of the spring semester. That includes holding its regular Wednesday meeting, moving conversation partners to an app chat and hosting a Netflix party with international student ambassadors.

On April17, the department had international student ambassador, Zahra Mansoursharifloo, a graduate student in communication and leadership, give a presentation on useful apps that international students should be aware of.  This presentation took place via Zoom and had a message on useful apps she found out while in the United States. The suggestions ranged from educational apps to apps that give student discounts.

Mansoursharifloo said she found out about these apps through friends, internet, classmates and professors.

“Some of these apps helped me improve my English language like TED and YouTube, while others helped me to adapt better in the United States like Hulu and YouTube,”  Mansoursharifloo said.

Also, being an international student ambassador, Mansoursharifloo said it has been an amazing experience for her, and she finds it as an opportunity to be more involved with the Park family, connect with other international students and learn.

Kathryn Brown, Graduate Assistant for International Education, said they had to come up with events to engage students since previous events were canceled. The major events that were canceled were ziplining in collaboration with Pirate Fitness, the International Dance Festival and the Spring 2020 Sash Ceremony.

In an email sent out on April13, the office said it will be paying for sashes as they do every year and encouraged spring graduates to order their sashes. Also, international and study abroad graduating students will be given an opportunity to share their experiences and their journey at Park. They can give their speeches by making a video, wearing their sash and sending it to the social media pages of the international office.

“We will post these videos to our social media stories during the summer,” the email stated.

Graduates were also invited to join the graduation ceremony in December if they were around the Kansas City area.

On how the department chose the Netflix party event and app talk session, Brown said, “We brainstormed with our international ambassadors team about how we could bring about some community events on campus.”

She said the department supports Student Life events to keep Park students connected.

Brown said they have been sending suggestions to students on ways to stay busy at home, from Mindful Mondays to Coffee and Zoom events hosted by Student Life and supported by some international ambassadors.

“We’re doing as much as we can from a distance to make sure that our students have opportunities to connect with their campus community.” Brown said.

On the transition to online events, Brown said it is a bittersweet experience.

“We are mourning the loss of community events and major milestones for our graduates like the International Sash Ceremony,” she said. However, she added that she is thankful for a technology like Zoom that can keep people connected in creative ways from a distance.

For the next semester, Brown said: “Students can expect international education events to be in place next semester – we’re not going anywhere. We will continue to find creative ways to provide resources and bring our campus community together, whether we are in person or at a distance.”