Most of the 1,300 international students currently attending WMU participate in the International Student Orientation and Registration Program which is similar to Fall Welcome.
The ISORP program is held separately to help provide international students with specific immigration, health care and cultural information. However, as many friendships are formed during Fall Welcome and ISORP, a split is created between domestic and international students.
“Certain groups [at WMU] tend to stick together, and it is when students first arrive that these groups are formed. More integration would be good,” said Tamarie Tomaski, an international student admissions counselor at WMU.
Oscar Gonzalez fro the Dominican Republic said that his friends are mostly international students and that most Americans he has met at WMU do not know much about other countries.
“American students do not always see the connection of why they would want to get to know international students unless they have studied abroad or have [foreign] family connections,” said Ewa Urban, a doctoral candidate researching international students’ experiences at WMU.
American Orientation coordinator Steve Booher is now taking actions towards new ideas to integrate the two student bodies during student orientation.
“We could get international students assigned into the Fall Welcome groups and work with the director of ISORP to plan full evenings when they can do Fall Welcome activities. We can start to open up that line of communication,” Booher said.
Stephanie Childs from Michigan would also like to see more interaction between domestic and international students. She said an integrated orientation week could be the way to do it.
“By combining International and American orientation it will help eliminate any awkwardness and help both groups transition to WMU and different cultures easier,” said Stephanie Childs, a recreation major at WMU.