Each year more international students are becoming part of the Mountaineer family, sharing their culture, joining organizations, studying a variety of disciplines and helping to make West Virginia University a global campus.
There are nearly 1,350 international students attending WVU, representing 100 different countries. The number of first-time freshmen international students has more than doubled over the past six years.
WVU has been working to increase the number of first-time freshmen international students to help increase overall undergraduate presence, and help create more of a “global experience” on campus, said Michael Wilhelm, director of WVU’s Office of International Students and Scholars.
Undergraduate international enrollment has increased from 306 students in the fall of 2005 to 426 students in the fall of 2009.
Representatives from the University have been traveling overseas to visit high schools and attend education fairs in other countries. They have also been working closely with embassies in Washington, D.C.
“The reality is that only a small percentage of the student body is able to study abroad. We want to expand the international presence on campus, so that every student that attends WVU can experience the world,” Wilhelm said.
In the future, Wilhelm would like to see the number of countries represented on the WVU campus increase to at least 150.
‘A global experience’
Once international students arrive on campus, they bring more than their drive to learn.
The international community at WVU has been instrumental in arranging festivals to celebrate their culture. In the past they have held an International Festival, International Dinner, Peruvian Festival, a celebration of China’s traditional Mid-Autumn Festival and a Mini World Cup, among other things.
“Each new group of international students provides an opportunity for the Morgantown community to offer help, hospitality and friendship. The international experience is a two-way street. The students learn about American culture while the community benefits from exposure to many different types of music, movies, dress and ideas,” said Liz Finklea, community outreach coordinator for WVU’s Office of International Students and Scholars.
The students have made arrangements to show videos and bring in speakers to talk about different aspects of their society.
Each month, the international community also holds an International Tea that brings faculty, staff and local residents together to meet with people from other cultures.
For more information on WVU’s Office of International Students and Scholars, visit http://oiss.wvu.edu/.
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