By Annie Hornung
The International Student Support Working Group (ISSWG) was launched at the start of the fall 2018 semester as a new source of support for international students at Vanderbilt. The group, formed by Executive Director of International Student Programs Susan Barone, is focused on identifying various ways to support international students at large.
“The ISSWG includes students and staff from offices across campus who offer international student services in some capacity,” Barone said. “It’s a space where people with this common focus can come together to engage in this important work.”
Each year, the ISSWG will use a theme to guide its efforts in creating resources and hosting events that are most relevant to the international student experience. The theme for the 2018-19 academic year is networking, or helping international students to develop and refine their networking skills. Through various events and workshops, the ISSWG will provide opportunities for international students to learn cultural and linguistic strategies for effective networking and to apply these skills in practice.
Beyond the formation of the ISSWG, Vanderbilt’s international student support efforts have expanded over the last 18 months in response to student and scholar feedback. The Career Center, International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) and Inclusion Initiatives and Cultural Competence (IICC) have sponsored a variety of programming for international students.
The university also has invested in staffing in the international services area, appointing Annette Burris as associate director of ISSS and hiring assistant director Andrea Pietrzyk to serve as an additional resource for non-immigrant students and scholars. Finally, ISSS began using Terra Dotta in May 2018 as a new software platform to effectively process international student visa applications.
For more information on the ISSWG and other international student support services, visit International Resources at Vanderbilt.