ECU works to help international students during holidays

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – As the holidays approach, East Carolina University staff members are preparing ways to help international students who may not be able to go home for winter break.

ECU held a faculty and staff global zone training Thursday with the hope of improving experiences for international students.

Thanksgiving is just a week away, and while many students at East Carolina University are preparing to go home, some do not have that option.

That’s why the Global Affairs department is sharing some American culture with those international students instead.

“On Friday, we’re gonna have a kind of fellowship meal with some of our international students who wanna come and bring some of their food from their local cultures and share that with us. Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday, and so we wanna share that with them,” said Jon Rezek, Global Affairs assistant vice chancellor.

ECU currently has about 250 international students from 68 different countries, which is steadily growing after the pandemic.

This workshop was to help any ECU faculty or staff member learn how those students feel about being away from their culture. It also helped expand on a mission at the university to always make international students feel welcome at the school.

“We have a weekly coffee hour at our international house that is a great way of having international students meet each other, meeting domestic students so they can interact and play games in a very casual environment,” said Rezek.

For one international undergrad student, those efforts appear to be paying off. He says he feels right at home on campus.

“I made a lot of friends from here, and I was able to take a glimpse of the culture here. I just feel like I’m part of it,” said Andy Jha.

The workshop was part of International Education Week. It was the third global zone training at ECU, and the Global Affairs department wants to expand in the future by getting even more students involved.

Rezek said many students do not go home for Thanksgiving break, and several of them also do not go home for Christmas break, partially because it is still hard to travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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