Lounge highlights international diversity

Lounge highlights international diversity

Anya Zentmeyer

Students of all backgrounds and nationalities crowd room 1142 Kirkhof Center, dozens of native dialogues bleeding into one, dozens of sayings and stories being swapped in dozens of different forms, all coming together under one title: International Student Lounge.

The International Student Lounge is a celebration of diversity, masterminded by International Club members. President of the International Club, Andres Ortiz, encourages all students to attend the lounge, which is held every Friday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“We want to improve the quality of involvement of international students along with the GVSU community, by having an open space to discuss general ideas of what is going on in the different home countries, sharing some food in case that some students decide to bring some authentic food, music, and most importantly without feeling attached to any planned schedule,” Oritz said.

With rising numbers in international students coming through the Padnos International Center, it only seems natural to bring them all together.

Kate Stoetzner, director of Padnos International Center, said the numbers of international students attending GVSU have risen from 120 students total in 2001 to 300 students currently.

“In the fall semester we generally get about 100 brand new students, and then in the winter semester we get about 25 or 30 new students,” Stoetzner said. “We get about 300 total, so of the 300 maybe 30 will be here for a semester or a year, and the other 270 are here for a full degree.”

Stoetzner attributes this growth to programs GVSU has established with countries such as Saudi Arabia, Norway, South Korea and India. Recently, she noted, the King of Saudi Arabia has put a scholarship in place that supplies funds to students who want to attend GVSU. Stoetzner also said both Saudi Arabia and South Korea are becoming more prominent in GVSU’s community because of the ESL program, which brings the students to GVSU and teaches them the English language – a mandate for students seeking admission to GVSU.

“I think things like the scholarship program coming out of Saudi Arabia certainly changes the landscape of American higher education,” Stoetzner said.

It is because of the growth of the international student population on campus that Ortiz and the other members of the International Club want to bring GVSU’s diversity to the forefront with the International Student Lounge.

“So far we have had three sessions, and I think they have been quite interesting,” Ortiz said. “The number of students involved has been increasing and eventually we expect to have even more, once people get to know this activity better.”

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