Program Gives a Crash Course on Life in the U.S.
Inaugural Event Designed to Help International Students Make the Transition
Sept. 18, 2008
UT Dallas has launched a program to help new international students in their transition to life in the United States.
The recent debut of International Student Success Training was a daylong event that offered resources to more than 200 international students. Topics ranged from culture to classroom and career management.
“International students are eager to be successful in the U.S., whether culturally, socially, academically or professionally,” said Cristen Casey, director of the International Student Services Office. “We believe this training provides building blocks for them to gain the skills they’ll need to reach their personal and professional goals.”
Dr. Shelley Lane, interim associate dean in the School of Arts and Humanities and a regular presenter at international student orientations, opened the day with a session about intercultural communication styles.
Lane’s “U.S. Culture and Communication” presentation included information about American beliefs and values and how they influence communication. Skits performed by members of the Global Village student group helped emphasize her points.
Lane also led a discussion about typical reactions held by non-native Americans when confronted with communication and behavior patterns that differ from those of their own culture.
“We generally evaluate others’ behavior based on what our culture teaches us,” Lane said. “We also assume that something must be wrong with those who don’t behave according to our own beliefs and values.
“What I try to teach is that we should be mindful that what is considered normal or natural in one culture isn’t necessarily in another because cultural beliefs and values that influence behavior aren’t universal.”
A session about classroom culture and workplace communication was presented by MaryAnn Young, a senior lecturer in Arts and Humanities, who was accompanied by a student panel from her one of her classes. International students received information about communicating with professors and teaching assistants, as well as details about WebCT and academic integrity.
Later, the Career Center presented a formal luncheon that included a business etiquette discussion led by Judi Hensley, director of university events.
The day closed with an afternoon lecture, “Employment Options in the U.S.,” presented by School of Management faculty and staff. Gene Deluke gave tips about key words to use during a job search. Students also learned job search strategies, collected information about networking, and received an overview about the practical training process from Judy Guyer, director of the School’s Career Management Center.
The idea for International Student Success Training, which organizers say will be held annually each fall, was born of a partnership between the Office of International Student Services, the School of Management Career Center and the UT Dallas Career Center as a holistic training effort to ensure the success of new international students at the University.