February 12, 2001
IAC examines support
visitors from abroa
is communications coordinator for the
Office of International Affairs (OIA)
Several years ago, President Bill Chace made internationalism one of
Emorys main priorities, and the University adopted an internationalization
strategy. The Institute for Comparative and International Studies was
established, the curriculum in the college was revised to add core requirements
in area studies/non-Western civilizations and foreign language. Study
abroad programs expanded as well.
Today, the University is in the second phase of its international development,
and the International Affairs Council (IAC) is looking at what steps should
be taken to continue the significant progress made so far.
The IAC, which includes representatives from each of Emorys nine
schools, is conducting a study of support services for international visitors,
students and scholars. Questions focus on visa and tax issues, housing
and transportation, English language assistance, and other subjects. The
council is investigating how both Emory and its peer institutions provide
such services to determine how improvements could be made.
The University has seen increased growth of internationals on campus
in the past decade. The number of international students has doubled from
354 in 1990 to more than 700 today, and the number of scholars increased
at a similar rate.
While most have a good experience here, those in the graduate and professional
schools struggle in the beginning with some things that Americans take
for granted, such as arranging phone service, setting up bank accounts
and connecting utilities. And some international scholars who come for
short visits experience difficulties being paid because of paperwork problems.
I had difficulties in the beginning with all the document organization,
and I had many questions about simple things in daily life, said
Amira Kaminer, a professor of drama, theater and creative education at
Tel-Aviv University who taught at Emory last fall. I needed more
information about the bank and the telephone, for instance. It could be
easier if I had someone official to help me instead of asking for favors.
Despite those struggles, Kaminer said she learned a lot from her colleagues
in the departments of Middle Eastern Studies and Jewish Studies. They
gave me the feeling that I was a part of a team, she said.
International visitors arent the only ones who face obstacles when
they arrive. Administrators who help them get settled often struggle with
the complex paperwork that must be completed.
Despite those problems, Emory benefits from having internationals on
campus. Internationals make Emory more interesting and share with the
community a different view of the world, said Scott Allen, director of
international recruitment for undergraduates.
From what Ive heard from faculty, the classroom is enriched
with a different perspective, said Allen, who has traveled to Europe,
the Middle East and Latin America to recruit students.
The IAC also is studying the role and structure of the Halle Institute
and the role of the Office of International Affairs.