Global Engagement Seminar Facilitates Adjustment to U.S. Culture

New offering designed for international students and global nomads

23 May, 2014 by John Finn

When incoming international students and global nomads make their way to The College of Wooster this fall, they will be greeted by a variety of resources to help them adjust to life and a liberal arts education in this country, including a newly created global engagement seminar, which will expose them to the cultural characteristics and quirks of living and studying in the United States.

"International students and global nomads face a number of cultural and language barriers," said Jill Munro, director of international student and scholar services at Wooster. "Most don't realize how different the American educational system is. Some thrive because they can ask questions of their professors and think critically for the first time. Others struggle to make that adjustment. This seminar is designed to help all of them make a successful transition by intentionally connecting them to the appropriate support resources available to all students on campus."

The innovative seven-week seminar will meet twice a week and cover such topics as education, politics, healthcare, immigration, race relations, gender roles, and a range of other issues in the U.S.

"It started as a tool to help international students who may experience difficulty with the English language in an academic context, or may struggle academically due to their lack of familiarity with the liberal arts model," said Munro. "From there, it expanded into a broader focus, which included relationship building, retention, and global engagement."

That focus is also intended to help first-year students accept and learn from each other, regardless of their ethnic origin and background. "It was suggested by Hank Kreuzman, dean for curriculum and academic engagement at Wooster, that we add domestic students to the seminar," said Munro. "We believe that will enhance the overall experience."

The two-year pilot program, developed by the Office of International Student Affairs in partnership with the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, will be assessed after each semester to compare the experience of those who participated in the seminar with those who did not.