PORTSMOUTH — Shawnee State University welcomed thirty-eight international students in various degree programs to campus for the 2020-2021 academic year. These international students represent sixteen countries: Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China, England, France, India, Malaysia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, and Ukraine. Bringing these students to campus during a global pandemic originally provided a challenge to the staff in the Center for International Programs & Study Abroad (CIPSA) at SSU.
As stay-at-home orders were issued across the globe over the summer, access to U.S. embassies in other nations were limited. Their closures provided difficulties to many international students needing visas to study in the U.S. for the coming academic year.
“It took a whole team of people at the university to make sure our international students arrived here safely and to help them transition to college life at Shawnee State,” said Ryan Warner, Director of CIPSA. “It was very important to us to keep this program open and bring international students – along with their diversity, customs, and ideas – to campus.”
Many international students late in the summer were given the opportunity to contact U.S. embassies to set up individual appointments to get their visas approved. When those international students were granted permission to study in the U.S., travel to Shawnee State was followed by a mandatory 14-day quarantine period once they arrived to campus.
“The students stayed in their housing units when first arriving on campus and I checked in with them every day to make sure they were getting everything they needed,” said Warner. “Our dining services were fantastic during that time – delivering meals and making sure they had everything they needed to be comfortable. It’s a great stress relief for those students during all of this to not have to worry about something like where their next meal is coming from.”
As the fall semester is underway, many international students are fully immersing themselves in the everyday student experience at Shawnee State. Students are taking courses in online, hybrid, and in-person formats, while also connecting with student life through socially-distanced events and virtual formats.
“I am very proud of Shawnee State,” said Warner. “Our institution understands the importance of having international students on our campus and what their experiences bring to our students and campus community.”
To learn more about international programs at Shawnee State, visit shawnee.edu.