Feb 16, 2010

International students give back by volunteering

by Crystal Heavner

Liberty University held its first International Student activity of the spring 2010 semester on Sunday, Jan. 31 at the LaHaye Ice Center.

The winter World-Wide Welcome was an opportunity for Liberty University and Lynchburg ministries to introduce incoming international students to their returning peers.

The event made incoming students aware of the support available to them during their time in Lynchburg. International from both Lynchburg College and Sweet Briar College were invited to join in the festivities.

Several other events for international students will be held throughout the semester. Two major events will occur during Liberty’s Missions Emphasis Week (MEW). The Parade of Nations will take place Feb. 15 and serve as an opening ceremony for the week’s proceedings.

During convocation, students from around the world will carry their nations’ flags. More than 100 students will partipate in this event, according to the International Student Center Coordinator and Office Manager Debbie Webb.

The second event of the week is the Taste of Nations, on Feb. 17 after campus church in the Schilling Center.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for different parts of the world to meet,” Foreign Student Advisor Linda Barkley said.

International students prepare and serve dishes from 20 of their native countries and offer a taste of their home to the Lynchburg community. It is also a chance for Liberty students to be introduced to “the wealth of cultural diversity around them every day,” Webb said.

The Taste of the Nations has drawn between 900 and 1500 participants in past years. The event requires 130 people to help with the serving and assistance to the students. Family and Consumer Science students work with the international students to help them cook and in the process learn unusual and culturally diverse recipes. All students are encouraged to volunteer for this and other international student events.

One way any student can get involved is to volunteer as an ambassador to assist new international students during international student orientation at the beginning of each semester. Approximately 10 volunteers are needed for each semester, according to International Student Office student assistant Sui Ngun.

Serving as an ambassador earns Christian Community service hours and early housing is provided for no charge. The duties of these volunteers include helping with registration tables, planning events and setting up and tearing down events setups and assisting new international students adjust to their new environments.

The International Student Office “prefers those (volunteers) who really want to learn about other cultures,” Ngun said. Most of these volunteers are returning international students who wish to share with new students the positive experience they received over their first few days at Liberty.

Domestic students are also welcome volunteers. According to Webb, the International student body is rapidly growing, and it has expanded from 250 students in 2003 to more than 900 this year. These events and the chance to volunteer for the International Student Office allow students to take advantage of the opportunity to live in a wealth of cultural diversity.

Students interesting in volunteering can contact Debbie Webb or Sui Ngun at (434)-592-4119.

Contact Crystal Heavner at
cheavner@liberty.edu.
 


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