USF Welcomes International Students
New Students from a host of counties share experiences, emails and Facebook invites.
USF.edu News Writer
TAMPA, Fla. (August 23, 2010) – On Friday, international students were welcomed to USF during the university’s fourth annual New International Student Welcome Reception, hosted by International Services and International Affairs and sponsored by Rhea Law at Fowler White Boggs, a Tampa law firm.
“Being an international student, I wanted to come meet other students and check the campus out,” said Taurean Hutchinson, an economics graduate student from Trinidad. Hutchinson chose to become a Bull because of the relatively large number of Caribbean students here and the short plane ride to Trinidad when he wants to visit his home country.
New international students mingled at the Alumni Center, enjoying a finger food banquet around candle-lit tables inside Traditions Hall. Flags representing most of the student’s countries hung across the room serving as a warm reminder that all students, regardless of nationality, are welcome at the University of South Florida.
“There are so many events going on and we just wanted a nice, simple event where we could tell international students that we’re glad they’re here,” said Marcia Taylor, director for International Services.
Law, a former USF student, employee and current member on the USF Board of Trustees, added that international students were important, not only to the USF community, but to the community at large, adding to the diversity of Tampa Bay.
The reception included free food for students and short welcome speeches by some of the university’s administration and faculty, including Ralph Wilcox, Provost and Executive Vice President of USF.
“I want to take this opportunity to warmly welcome you to the university and when I say warmly, I wasn’t exaggerating,” Wilcox said. “But things do cool down. In December.”
Wilcox told the students that the international perspectives they bring to the university are vital and encouraged them to speak out and challenge assumptions they hear in class.
As a former international student himself, he told them not to be shy about their homesickness and join student groups, including ones that represent their nationality, to help support them in their time of transition.
Gina Kim, a business major from Korea, befriended Danique Smits, a fellow business major from the Netherlands, at the exchange student orientation, hosted earlier that week. They ate together at one of the tables, discussing class schedules and concerns about how big the campus is.
At other tables, new students scribbled down e-mails and plugged phone numbers into their cell phones. Facebook friend requests will inevitably follow in the next couple of weeks.
Taylor encouraged students to go home and friend one another on Facebook, a valuable social tool that tears down geographical boundaries and allows new Bulls to meet one another before the start of classes and dorm room move-ins.
“How many of you met new friends today?” Taylor said. “Go home and find me on Facebook and add me as a friend. I only have 350 and that makes me sad. I know people who have 500.”
The students laughed, appreciating Taylor’s sense of humor and openness to communicating with them through a medium that was once limited to college students and is now being utilized by professors and school officials to engage students both socially and academically.
Daylina Miller covers student activities and trends. She can be reached at 813-500-8754.