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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Inaugural #YouAreWelcomeHere Scholars, International Education Week Highlight ODU’s Commitment to Global Students

By Joe Garvey

International students have long been an important part of Old Dominion University. The University currently has 818 from 92 foreign countries.

Old Dominion recently enhanced its commitment to internationall students by welcoming its first two #YouAreWelcomeHere scholars - one from the Palestinian territories and the other from Kenya.

The #YouAreWelcomeHere social media and scholarship campaign is "designed to affirm that U.S. institutions are diverse, friendly, safe and committed to student development," according to the organization's website.

#YouAreWelcomeHere began as a grassroots campaign among U.S. higher education institutions in 2016 and has since spread to 480 institutions, organizations, and secondary schools. These institutions communicate the message in statements, photos, videos, events and other creative expressions that feature students, faculty and staff.

In 2019, more than 50 institutions offered #YouAreWelcomeHere scholarships for the first time. ODU joined that group this year.

"ODU is delighted to be a part of the YAWH message of welcome to international students around the world," said Sharon Pitney, outreach coordinator for ODU's Center for Global Engagement. "The YAWH scholarship is helping both students fulfill their dream of studying in the U.S."

In addition, earlier this semester two new international students arrived on campus as part of the U.S. Department of State's Global Undergraduate Exchange Program in Pakistan (Global UGRAD-Pakistan),administered by International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX) and five new international students arrived as part of the overall Global UGRAD) program, administered by World Learning.

The Global UGRAD program, which places participants at U.S. colleges and universities for a semester of study abroad and leadership-building, is part of a broader U.S. Department of State effort to promote greater understanding between the people of the United States and other countries.

For instance, since the Global UGRAD-Pakistan program's inception in 2010, more than 2,000 undergraduate student leaders from across Pakistan have been given the opportunity to study at an American campus. Through semester-long coursework, exploration of U.S. culture, participation in community service projects and interactions with Americans in their host communities and campuses, Global UGRAD-Pakistan participants develop expertise in their academic fields and gain an understanding of American culture and values. Over the past decade, participants have volunteered more than 40,000 hours of service in communities across the United States, and more than 90% of alumni share the skills and knowledge they learn during the program in their home communities upon returning to Pakistan.

"Bringing together students from multiple countries and cultures into one classroom can make for a very lively and productive learning experience - one that reflects the world our students will graduate into," Pitney said.

To recognize and celebrate the University's global student cohort, the Office of Intercultural Relations and the Center for Global Engagement are hosting a number of events Nov. 15-19 during International Education Week. For a schedule of activities, go to this link.

For more information about special international scholarships offered through the Center for Global Engagement, contact Pitney at cge@odu.edu or 757-683-4419.

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