Christopher Chileshe, President of the International Student Council, provides relevant insight for incoming international students.
Where are you from and what brought you to UVU?
I was born in Zambia and lived there until the age of seven. After that I lived in Belgium for 10 years before coming to the United States. I met members of the LDS church and they recommended that I come to Utah for further education, and I’ve been at UVU for the past three years.
What were your first impressions of the campus?
It is a different environment for an international student. I was out here completely alone when I began my UVU experience. Despite this initial drawback, I thought the campus was beautiful and the people were very friendly.
How can incoming international students make an easier transition?
I would recommend participating as much as possible. I went to club rush and signed up for anything that sounded interesting to me. I made time for these activities, and through them I was able to meet a variety of people who shared my interests, and I was also able to experience the American culture and gradually integrate into campus life. I also had the opportunity to travel throughout the U.S. because of various organizations I became affiliated with.
Where can an international student seek assistance regarding concerns they may have?
I utilized the student center and went to advisors for counseling, but I actually learned a lot from resident students as well. While many international students are given custodial positions on campus, a resident student recommended working at the testing center, which is where I had my first job. International students can also be targeted for exploitation whether it’s being charged too much for rent or being held to unverified expectations in the workplace, in this case, students have access to on-campus conflict management.
What other opportunities are available to international students?
There is optional training for international students which will allow them to get a job off-campus as long as it applies to their major, which will allow them to make more money and may give them better experience. They can also get involved with the International Student Council (ISC) and the opportunities it provides. The International Student Success division of the council offers activities such as dances and snowboarding excursions as well as tutoring and other academic outlets. The Faculty Outreach division tries to promote understanding of international students needs in the classroom and the Community Outreach division finds avenues in which international students can become involved in community service. If a student volunteers with the council for a year they can qualify for either a partial or full scholarship, but international students can also qualify for private scholarships. They may also qualify for work study through ISC if their GPA is 3.5 or above. Students should also join our Facebook group which has postings of everything going on of interest to an international student.