The smell of peking duck, ramen, and Korean BBQ filled the air as the IU2U student leaders and incoming international students sat down together to share traditional Korean meals. Together, students and faculty formed bonds with one another over traditional meals and culture throughout the next few days.
Through the IU2U program, newly-admitted (or incoming) international students can apply to participate and learn about the university and its culture before they set foot on campus. Current IU students can apply to be student leaders for the program where they will discover new countries and cultures as they travel internationally to lead workshops, and more, for the IU2U program.
Domestic and international students alike often find themselves seeking opportunities to travel around the world while making an impact. For some new student leaders, this is the first time they have traveled without family or even stepped foot onto an airplane.
For Lucas Adams, being part of the IU2U program in 2017 did exactly that. Although Adams had traveled outside the country before, this time he’d be mending language barriers, discussing visa requirements and talking to incoming students about the culture at IU.
“Serving as an IU2U Student Leader is a transformative opportunity that is so unique to IU,” Adams said. “This University makes a huge investment every year in preparing its international student population for success here.”
The IU2U is an orientation program designed to help new, international undergraduate students and their parents learn more about life at IU and the Bloomington community by engaging with faculty, staff, and student leaders. Domestic and international students can apply to be student leaders starting mid-October. The application and selection process happen in the fall.
Students who are selected to be part of the program become mentors for the incoming students about American culture and college life. Parents are also encouraged to attend the sessions to learn more about the university and get answers to their questions regarding classes, financial aid, health insurance and more.
Through the IU2U program, students can travel through Asia as they explore culture, history and meet the incoming international students. In Adams’ case, he experienced Seoul, South Korea, Beijing and Shanghai, China for the first time. As student leader, Adams began to understand the unique challenges international students face in attending college in the United States.
“I gained a lot of respect for IU’s international student population after I understood a bit more of what they go through,” Adams said.