Library welcomes record number of international students

Julie Sickel

The Office of International Affairs and the Kent State University Library teamed up Friday evening to welcome back more international students than ever before for the Spring 2011 semester.

Nearly 200 faculty members, international students and family members came together in the lower level study room of the library as part of a new collaborative effort between the international affairs office and the Kent State Library.

“This is part of the university’s strategic plan to make the international students feel welcome,” said Roman Panchyshyn, co-chair of the library diversity committee. “We try to hold an event like this, especially for international students, in order to expose them to the library and make them feel welcome and comfortable on campus.”

This partnership arrives at a time when there are more international students enrolled at Kent State than ever before. Sneha Jose, an international student and previous employee at the international affairs office estimates the number to be between 1,200-1,400 students, approximately 200 more than last semester.

At the welcome party, attendees feasted on fresh vegetables, lasagna and other refreshments. James Bracken, dean of library and media services, spoke to the students and faculty to welcome them and to encourage them to enjoy the reception.

“Your presence on this campus makes this an international university, and I thank you for that,” Bracken said. “I’m from Ohio, and Ohio is not a very international place.”

Bracken expressed his hope for the international students to feel at home in the library and for this reception to become an annual event. He said the library is planning to offer special services aimed at international students, such as language-learning programs, poetry readings, film nights and other cultural events.

“This is a team effort here,” Bracken said. “The warmer we can make the environment, the easier it will be to bridge home sickness, because this is not the Indian Ocean, this is not the Pacific, this is Northeastern Ohio.”

Jose said she thinks lower tuition costs and location play a big role in why international students are choosing Kent State.

“(Kent is) not a crazy big city like New York City or in the middle of no where. It’s got that little balance to it,” Jose said. “That makes studying easier because you’re not out hearing the noise of 10,000 cars constantly.”

Kristi Campbell, assistant director of International Affairs, said she was very pleased with the turnout of the event.

“There’s an excellent mixture of students,” Campbell said.

“There are so many people here from so many different cultures and countries and they’re actually talking to each other instead of just staying with people of the same culture.”

Among the mixture were students from China, Malaysia, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. They found the means to attend Kent State through graduate assistantships, scholarships, fellowships and grants.

“The pleasure of this whole thing is that now they’re no longer international students,” Bracken said. “They’re Kent State students.”

Contact Julie Sickel at [email protected].