The descriptions below will give you an idea of some of the events we plan throughout the year. Don’t forget to look at the photos from our events in our Photo Gallery.
OIS kicks off each year with exciting, unique programming by offering the incoming international class a warm welcome during International Orientation. International Orientation takes place 3 days before general freshman orientation and comprises a series of events geared to help new international students make a smooth transition to their new life at Vassar! From personal pick-ups at the airport, campus tours and sessions with important on-campus resources, to an unforgettable barbecue by Sunset lake followed by a bonfire with the Vassar International Student’s Association. We want to make sure our international freshmen begin their Vassar experince in the best possible way.
Part of Freshmen Orientation, this is an event hosted by the Office of International Services to provide first year students with a fun, interactive way to get to know Arlington and their immediate surroundings. Student fellow groups explore the area by foot and compete by trying to visit all the local restaurants, businesses and establishments assigned to them and taking the craziest, most creative photos at each location.
This program pairs a Vassar community member with an international or overseas student in order to help them transition to Vassar and get to know the Hudson Valley area. Hosts are members of the Vassar faculty, administration and staff who have volunteered their time to make themselves available to new students and language fellows. Activities with hosts can include anything from a casual coffee in town or on campus, to a trip to go apple or pumpkin picking in the fall, or a home-cooked meal with the host and their family.
Although the OIS office/intern space is open everyday and is a place where international students pop in to ask a question on virtually anything or just stop by for a chat, we hold two official open houses each semester. With food, friends, and either music from some corner of the world or funny Youtube videos playing in background, OIS open houses are the perfect opportunity to re-connect with the international community.
We celebrate the International Day of Peace (which occurs annually on September 21) in a variety of ways. This year students from all across campus made Pinwheels for Peace, which were displayed in the library lawn to remind us, in the words of the UN Peace day home page, that “our permanent commitment, above all interests or differences of any kind, is to peace.”
The Around the Worldprogram (AtW) is a series of culture-specific events, intended to give students and others an opportunity to learn more about countries other than their own through food, facts presentations, and discussions on relevant topics and current affairs. Students from a particular region are invited to share their life experiences (and culinary talents!) so as to enlighten others on how the world varies in cultural, linguistic, and other contexts. We hold four ATWs a year, highlighting Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa
A series of gatherings, which aims primarily to give students a chance to practice conversational English in an informal setting. Conversations is an all-student program, facilitated by OIS interns. We look to create a fun and helpful space for international students, especially non-native English speakers, to gain confidence with the every day use of the English language and to gain some insights into American culture as well. The program is made up of a series of regular meetings (twice a month) where we will provide dinner and a space to engage in a variety of conversational activities.
Sponsored by the Arlington Business Improvement District in collaboration with Vassar College, Office of International Services and the Vassar Student Association, the Arlington Street fairwelcomes new and current residents, merchants, students, and families back for a new year. Highlights include carnival rides, live entertainment, musical guests, the annual state-wide Chili Cook-Off, and 100 plus vendors – including restaurants, shops, and craftspeople.
Amongst the various services provided by the Office of International Services, international students who have secured employment and are eligible for a Social Security Number are assisted in applying for a SS number. OIS interns will also take groups of students to the DMV to apply for a state ID card.
Midway through the fall semester, we hold informal “check-ins” with groups of about 6 or 7 freshmen to make sure everyone is settling well into the academic and social life at Vassar. Students talk about what they have found most surprising about Vassar, how they are experiencing the American classroom, the co-curricular activities they are participating in and the challenges they are facing. During these check-ins students are also informed about their employment options and how to maintain their F1 student status.
The Office of International Services has been working to develop intentional programming for international studentsthat focus on issues of the transition that many international students, particularly those from Asia, face when coming to Vassar. These programs have been possible due to the generosity of Vassar Alum who faced similar challenges in her tenure at Vassar, and established a fund known as the Boonsri Sophonpanich Fund. The fund has provided an opportunity to offer programming and services that help international students and specifically native Asian students adjust and negotiate cultural, social and academic issues at college and transition to Vassar and the United States. A Day Trip to New York City was one such event. Asian international students took the train to the city, had lunch at Central Park, visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Natural History Museum and ended the day with a fantastic Broadway show!
Students are provided with an opportunity to listen and dialogue with two visiting immigration attorneys. This is a great chance to demystify the whole conversation about employment during and after Vassar, and what all the possibilities are in the US after international students graduate.
Every international student has to file at least one tax form. OIS holds an annual tax workshop (or tax party, as Andrew likes to call it) to help students navigate the IRS and the American tax system. Through a power point presentation, the directors and interns help students complete their forms.
The Office of International Services has a long list of exciting events to celebrate IEW. These include:
• International Photo Contest: Annual photo contest displaying our campus community’s cross-cultural perceptions and perspectives. All students (JYAers, Americans, Internationals, etc) and other members of the Vassar community who have traveled abroad are invited to submit photographs of places, people, and cultures they have encountered. International students are encouraged to submit their photographic experiences of the USA or other countries to which they have traveled. Voting occurs during Kaleidoscope.
•Kaleidoscope: Definitely OIS’s biggest event as well as one the most popular and well-attended all campus events of the year, Kaleidoscope is the annual international food festival which celebrates cultural diversity at Vassar. Last year we had over 500 people attend! Amazing food from various different resturants in Poughkeepsie represent cusine from around the world. Included within Kaleidoscope are:
• Dessert Cook-off: delicious contest featuring desserts from all over the world. A group of Faculty, staff and students judge all entries and the winners are announced before the end of the event.
• Flag Ceremony: Hosted by representatives of the World Peace Organization, students carry their country’s flag, sharing a few words about their country and celebrating Vassar’s international community.
• World’s Got Talent: all-campus talent show that promises both to impress and entertain!
•Vassar World Cup: OIS hosts an unforgettable sporting event, where students grouped by continents or regions compete for pride and glory at soccer, squash and ping pong.
Our phenomenal director of International Services, Andrew Meade and his family, host a Thanksgiving meal at their home for students (international and others) who are on campus for the holiday break. Laughter, charades, some tears of joy, and more delicious food than you could have ever dreamed of are the highlights of what Andrew calls “his favorite day out of the whole year.”
The annual alumnae panel features International and American alums talking about their careers and experiences, and offering advice about life after Vassar. This event offers a unique opportunity to hear how American and international students have parlayed their Vassar experience into a future in the US or abroad
Lenses is another event in the series of new programming that is focused on issues of the transition that many international students, particularly those from Asia, face when coming to Vassar. The event includes a keynote speaker and a panel of alums followed by a dinner conversation that focuses on the experiences native Asian international students are having at Vassar and the challenges they are facing. It provides an opportunity for students to support each other and for the Office of International Services to learn of ways in which we can further support our students.
OIS kicks off the spring semester by taking an annual ice-skating trip. Often times a first for international students, the ice skating trip provides a wonderful opportunity to get active, bond over hot chocolate, and if you’re lucky, see your friends take a tumble on the ice!
End of Year Barbecue
Our last official event of the year, the end of year barbecue is a perfect way to get together and say goodbye to international friends before the semester is over and enjoy how gorgeous Vassar is in the spring!
International Senior’s Dinner
The international senior class, staff of the OIS office, and the exec board of the International Student’s Association (VISA) gather one last time to share experiences from their time at Vassar and not to say good bye, but to say “see you later”…because international students at Vassar often find that they’ve made bonds within the international community that last a lifetime.
Graduating international students and their families are invited to a reception to celebrate the accomplishments of our senior students and for families to meet and rejoice together.