While the University aims to encourage interaction among students of all races and ethnicities, several international students say campus organizations are not sufficiently facilitating such interaction.

Michigan ranks ninth in the nation for the number of international students with 4,149 enrolled, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, but many of these students do not completely integrate into the student body.

Although LSA junior Joy Kaung left Hong Kong three years ago to attend the University, she said she feels she has only partially succeeded in associating with American students.

“In terms of integration, there’s the part where people just don’t personally reach out,” Kaung said. “It’s not really working that well because for most of the students I know that are international students, they don’t mingle well with the locals.”

But international students do not always avoid associating with American students by choice – they just have fewer opportunities to interact with American students, LSA sophomore Pragav Jain said.

“International students do feel left out,” he said. “At orientation you only meet a few people. Initially in the first year, they don’t hang out with American students.”

LSA sophomore Akshay Bajpaee, who is an Indian from Hong Kong and a member of three international student groups, said the University needs to create “more programs promoting the mixing of international and American students.

“I don’t think mentorship programs or other programs on campus have achieved that success of mixing yet,” he said.

The University is not entirely responsible for encouraging greater interaction, said Jain, a member of the Indian Students Association. He added that some international student groups primarily organize activities for their members to interact with one another.

“Whatever activities they hold are amongst themselves rather than involving American students,” he said.

Onur Cetin, president of the Turkish Student Association, said some international students try to isolate themselves within their respective national associations.

“It’s not a good idea,” he said. “The national associations should help out for the first few months, but then encourage the students to integrate.”

Yet some international student organizations are realizing the importance of integration and are encouraging their members to associate with Americans.

“I’ve been trying to encourage the Turkish students here to live with Americans in the houses,” Cetin said. “Start living with the Americans, start working with them, which will get the fastest adaptation.”

Both Kaung and Bajpaee said they had the opportunity to interact with many Americans through AIESEC, a student internship exchange organization that works on community service projects with various University student groups.

AIESEC President-elect Carly Lewis said last year AIESEC also organized The Event, a Diag celebration where free food and games were provided. Almost every student group was invited, she said.

“Through AIESEC we’ve been able to meet people from every other group,” Lewis said. “We’re not segregated.”

Lewis said many international and American students are members of AIESEC, and through involvement in the group, they have a chance to meet many other students on campus.

“One of the great things about AIESEC is no matter what country you’re from … you’re going to meet people from all over the world,” she said, adding through AIESEC she has met people from 85 countries.

Although the transition to living and studying in the United States may be difficult for many international students, involvement in many different activities is a way to relieve homesickness and integrate into the University, Bajpaee said.

“One of the solutions was getting involved a lot,” he said. “It really helped in adjusting to the environment, meeting new people.”

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