By Caitlin Scott for the After Class  blog
Imagine leaving your home behind to study in a new country. As international students will tell you, it’s a difficult process.
“It’s not very easy in the beginning when we came here,” RuiHao Min, a senior marketing and economics student at the UI says. “Many international students are good at exams, but I think the really hard thing is to be part of the culture; to be successful in a brand new environment.”
Min is an international student from Chengdu, the capital of the Chinese province Sichuan in Southwest China. Since starting AiCheng magazine last May, Min realized that the student-run publication has the potential to benefit future international students adjust to American culture, in addition to current students who wish to tell their stories.
AiCheng began as a student organization and received funding from the University of Iowa Student Government (UISG) to print their student-run magazine. AiCheng released heir first issue last May. It featured student-submitted articles about international students’ experiences at the UI. (Fittingly, “AiCheng” translates to “Share the Life You Love” in English).
After realizing AiCheng’s potential to aid future international students looking to learn about the American culture, Min and the AiCheng staff started working on plans to become a self-sustained business. They hope extra funding will allow the group to publish on a more frequent basis. This year, they’re participating in John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center’s (JPEC) Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory (BELL).
Upcoming editions of AiCheng will feature content that will benefit both current and future international students. According to Min, the staff plans to incorporate topics like culture, education, and career development. They’re also working on improvements to their website.
The ambitious staff is currently applying to competitions like the Silicon Valley Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition, where they hope to learn market strategies and connect with other entrepreneurs and mentors.
Min encourages other UI students to research the many resources at the UI and then use ingenuity to turn a dream into reality.
“I never thought that we could develop from a student organization to an entrepreneurial program here at JPEC. Now I think it’s a great model. We started as a student org and then we believed that we had a great product, so we moved forward and went out into a bigger community,” Min says. “Talk with advisors, teachers, and friends and then use your creativity to think about how you can use available resources. Think bravely and think boldly.”
The AiCheng staff is looking forward to reaching a broader audience through their website and future editions. Currently, the magazine is publishing the majority of the content in Chinese (roughly one-third of the latest edition is in English). As the publication grows, AiCheng plans to incorporate more English content. Min hopes that their work will highlight the success of diversity on campus and create a more accessible communication channel between international students and American students.
“To come here and get involved and become familiar with the culture and the life and everything is hard. It will be great to have something to help [future international students] in the process.”