The University’s International Center will not be able to
hire peer advisors for its international student orientation this
summer due to proposed budget cuts by the University.

But International Center Director Rodolfo Altamirano said the
center will do what it can to ensure that the orientation program
continues.

The International Center, like many other programs in the
Division of Student Affairs, is anticipating budget cuts,
University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said. But Peterson and
Altamirano said the exact amount is not yet known.

The advisors serve as mentors to international students just
arriving in the United States, helping them transition to life in
the country and complete paperwork required under new laws imposed
after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The international student orientation is held separately from
other orientation programs. Students are given workshops on
American culture, etiquette and mannerisms.

“Budget cuts are inevitable, but the work must go
on,” Altamirano said.

Because paid peer advisors currently run the program, Altamirano
said he is considering an alternate program in which volunteers
would do the job that paid summer peer advisors previously
performed.

Altamirano, the former head of the International Center at
Michigan State University, said he introduced a volunteer program
at Michigan State in which former international students helped
other international students adjust to their new surroundings,
since they knew what it felt like to be a new country.

Altamirano said the program was successful there, and he is
hoping to replicate it at the University. He said he hopes
international students will be happy to help others, since they
have encountered the same issues that new students will face.

LSA junior Chin Swan Liew, who is from Malaysia, said he is
optimistic that the volunteer program will be successful and hopes
the orientation program continues to run.

“Since so many international students have benefited from
peer advisors, many of them will be more than willing to give up
their time and volunteer to make the program successful,” he
said.

Altamirano said as long as the volunteers are
“intrinsically motivated, dedicated and responsible”
the program can be successful.

While the effects of budget cuts on other services at the
International Center are not yet known, Altamirano said core
services — such as advisors to help students complete
mandatory immigration paperwork — will continue. He added
that the center will continue to be “a home away from
home” for international students.

LSA freshman Phoebe Kim from Hong Kong said she was saddened
that the orientation might be canceled if volunteers are not found.
She said she felt it was informative and helped her achieve a
smooth transition.

“It helped me a lot, as the international orientation
leaders have experienced what I encountered, thus are helpful in
terms of giving advice,” she said.

As of February, international student applications to the
University were down 12 percent. Altamirano said international
students are choosing to go to other countries such as Canada due
to stricter immigration rules imposed by the U.S. government after
Sept. 11.

He added that he was confident that he would find enough
volunteer advisors to continue the orientation.

“International students are important to any campus; we
cannot downplay the importance of international students,” he
said.

On Thursday at 1 p.m. there will be a meeting at the
International Center for students interested in serving as
volunteers for the summer program.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.