International workshop draws huge international response
When Ibrahim Neyazmuhammed, a Saudi Arabian graduate student, consulted with a counselor about the International Student Organization's new international student workshop, he was advised to expect 40 to 50 international students to attend.
Neyazmuhammed, also the ISO president, rented out a small room in the Bovee University Center and waited for international students to sign up.
He ended up having to change to the UC Auditorium to accompany all 123 students who attended.
With fall enrollment marking the total amount of International students attending Central Michigan University at 563, according to the registrar's office, the group currently has about 20 percent of international undergraduates as active participants, with only about five members a meeting being American students.
With the program newly established, having only one year in session, the ISO team members never expected the program to experience such rousing success.
Over the summer, the officials of the ISO decided to develop the program because international students needed to be taught skills that they weren't being taught through other means.
"There was no program," Neyazmuhammed said. "We met with faculty and said that students need this kind of workshop. So they provided the training."
The ISO has held two workshops so far this year. The first on time management had 123 students attend. The second on communication skills had 126 students attend. The ISO will hold three more workshops during the spring semester, on public speaking and presentation skills, decision making skills and career development.
After students have completed all of the workshops, they will receive a certificate which they can put on their resume. Neyazmuhammed said the program will allow students to succeed both in and out of college.
"Most students experience college in two different ways. They experience it through what they want. They want parties. They want to celebrate. They want to have fun. But they also attend college to get something that would benefit them. They attend college to get what they need," he said. "This program gives students something that benefits them. It gives them tools, which can help them in the real world."
Neyazmuhammed said the program is important for international students because they encounter challenges that other students don't face.
"(International) students are used to different countries, different cultures," Neyazmuhammed said. "They sometimes get homesick, they need help socially, they can need help organizing time, making friends, with their studies. This program addresses that."
Tracy Nakajima, director of International Affairs, and the faculty adviser of the group, said the number of students attending was extraordinary, but not surprising.
"The leaders of the program have worked tremendously hard to meet the needs of the international students on campus," Nakajima said. " The international student response reflects that"