University of Iowa

UI adds to welcome for new international students

July 19th, 2016

By: Zach Weigel, The Daily Iowan

The number of international students and scholars at the University of Iowa has risen every year for the last decade, and there are more than 4,500 international students on campus, according to a recent report by the UI International Student and Scholars Services.

In the past, because of  logistical challenges, international students have faced the disadvantage of not being able to participate in campus tours as many domestic students do during their summer Orientation.

“Because of visa constraints, international students can only come immediately before classes start, creating a time crunch [to provide tours],” said Downing Thomas, the UI associate provost for UI International Programs.


A campus tour is given to prospective students on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015. Students and parents become concerned with the environment they are exposed to on game days due to tailgating. (The Daily Iowan/Mikaela Parrick)

There has always been Orientation for international students, he said, but now, tours will be included starting this fall.

“With the tours, we will be a more welcoming campus and community because both international and domestic students can benefit each other by learning about each others’ cultures,” he said.

UI Student Government diversity liaison Brian Leal said he credits an interdepartmental effort as instrumental in facilitating the addition of tours as part of fall orientation.

It was a joint effort among UISG and numerous university departments, he said.

As part of the initiative, Leal said, UI tour guides will work with volunteer student leaders to assist on the tours for international students.

Additionally, he said, the goal is create a “sustainable structure” so that there is continuity among student-government staffs.

UI Director of Admissions Kirk Kluver said he is delighted that international students will have better access to tours.

“Student-led tours of campus are extremely valuable and a really important experience,” he said.

Kluver said officials also look at an alternative to the direct on-campus tours.

“We are looking at launching a new virtual tour alternative for prospective students and those who can’t make the on-campus tour work,” he said.

The virtual tour platform is in development stages, he said, but officials hope to have it running sometime this fall.

UISG President Rachel Zuckerman said tours will allow international students to “feel more welcome and get the lay of the land.”

Zuckerman said she thinks there is a need for  them.

“Previously, students were not getting tours, and they wouldn’t know where the IMU was, which is where they had to go for Orientation activities,” she said.

Zuckerman also said she thinks sometimes international students face the problem of becoming segregated from the rest of the university by not being properly acclimated to the campus.

“Students will feel more comfortable with campus, but it’s about more than that,” she said. “Tours will build relationships among international students and the rest of the university while making the students feel appreciated.”

Mosley Li, a UI student from China, said she thinks the tours will help because it is easier to remember things based on visuals.

“Coming from China, we don’t go by street names; we go by memory,” she said. “We might not know how to spell the name of a building or how to say it, so a tour would help us connect names and words better.”

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