FAYETTE, Iowa (December 16, 2008) - Upper Iowa University has plenty of merriment planned for its international students who won't be going home for the holidays.
For most UIU students, home is a reasonable distance away. However, for more than 20 Upper Iowa Fayette campus students from India (8,046 miles from Fayette), Nepal (7,546 miles), China (6,967), Mongolia (6,226), Latvia (4,643), and Venezuela (2,868), it is a long and expensive journey to take for just a few short weeks--and why the UIU staff is making plans.
"We have been working on a variety of activities to keep the students busy during the break," said Kit Klepinger, coordinator for international education. "We have also put out feelers within the community and to local organizations and churches for the possibility of additional things to do."
According to Klepinger, UIU has an International Friendship Program already established within the community, whereby members are paired up with the international students and asked to keep in touch by phone or e-mail and to plan at least one monthly outing with them, if possible. She said, "It gives the community a chance to share our culture with the students and, likewise, for our students to share their culture."
Klepinger says that with today's technology--cell phones, e-mail, and instant messaging--it is easy for the students to keep in touch with their families on a regular basis. So, even though they are separated by thousands of miles, communication can be instantaneous.
Regardless, UIU staff will make sure the students won't get bored. Some of the activities planned include a day trip to the mall, movie nights on campus and to nearby movie theatres, and board games. "Many of the students live in housing that has cooking facilities," she said. "So we will make sure their needs are met as far as utensils and grocery shopping, since the dining halls will be closed."
The total number of international students attending the Fayette campus is actually 34, but some of the students are taking short trips to New York or elsewhere within the states.
Klepinger makes an effort each month to celebrate important international holidays or showcase an individual country. She says in October, Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights was celebrated; December was a Venezuelan meal with spicy chicken soup and arepas; January will be the Lunar New Year, which is recognized in several Asian cultures, and so on. "It introduces our local students to their international peers," she said. "Plus, this exposure from a global aspect is beneficial to everyone in so many ways."
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