Taste of America Offers International Graduate Students Culture and Community over Dinner
In fall 2015, Graduate Division welcomed over 600 incoming international students to the university and the Irvine community. To support their transition for academic, personal, and professional success, the Graduate InterConnect Program provided mentorship and resources throughout students’ first quarter at UCI. Forty-five Peer Mentors and a robust calendar of workshops and events were provided to launch a successful career at UCI.
New to the program this year, Graduate InterConnect offered Taste of America as an opportunity to build relationships with local residents and to learn about American culture. For international students, the first few months in the U.S. are the most critical time for cultural adjustment. They are curious about the American way of life and eager to connect with Americans.
“I grew up in Nigeria and have been globally inclined since moving to the United States. I've come to meet people from backgrounds different from mine, traveled to places far away from home, and it's always a great and humbling experience to share cultures with others,” said Ngozi Nwosisi, Public Health, Ph.D.
Satisfaction of life outside of the classroom in an important factor to graduate student success. It is important for international graduate students to engage with their new community, which will be home for them for the next few years.
The Taste of America program provided the opportunity for Orange County residents to open their homes for cross cultural exchange. In the month of November, more than 30 local residents opened their homes to 60 international graduate students. One host shared, “You learn so much from the students, and they from you. We have many commonalities and the differences are quite interesting.”
Supriya Saxena, Biotechnology Management, M.S. said, “Taste of America would enable me to understand the American culture and food better; thus, helping me make the most out of my graduate studies as an international student. It would expose me to America outside of the educational setting that is the university and also give me insight on how Americans live in their day to day life.”
During the week of Thanksgiving, University Hills residents and members of a local community organization, Beyond Borders, hosted 23 dinners. One family in Lake Forest welcomed more than 40 international undergraduate and graduate students alone. International graduate students were thankful for the opportunity. “We are very thankful ... for investing so much effort in hosting such a delicious dinner. It was indeed a great experience meeting everyone. We got to know the American cuisine & culture. The dinner will be a moment we will cherish forever,” Shyam Naren Kandala, Computer Engineering, M.S. said.
Having positive experiences with lively conversations and delicious dinners, both hosts and international graduate students look forward to staying connected with each other throughout the year.
For more information on how to participate in Taste of America next fall 2016, contact firstname.lastname@example.org