UC MagazineUniversity of CincinnatiUC Magazine

UC Magazine

Cultivating kin in another culture

Alumni Association brings international students into Bearcat family

What’s up with American football?

That’s a popular sentiment among UC’s international students who feel left behind as they watch crowds of people stream into Nippert Stadium. To many who have grown up in foreign lands, the game is confusing, and they don’t understand why American students cherish football more than futbol (which looks like soccer to us).

To help, the UC Alumni Association hosts Football 101 at a home game each fall, where international students can appreciate the whole experience — tailgating under a tent beside Myers Alumni Center, attending a session explaining basic college football rules and strategy, learning UC’s trademark cheers, then using them while watching a game. About 100 students participated in the 2012 event.

Football 101 is one of the key ways the UCAA reaches out to international students at UC to help bring them into the Bearcat family.

This is pertinent because six of every 100 UC students have come from outside the U.S., and that percentage is rising. After graduation, some will remain in the states to begin their careers, while others will return to their native countries. Nevertheless, all are lifelong Bearcats.
International students live far from loved ones and often have to cope with language barriers and significant cultural differences. UC works hard to bridge that divide.

“A successful, comprehensive approach to international enrollment management includes all aspects — from recruiting and admissions to retention and graduation,” said Ron Cushing, A&S ’88, M (A&S) ’90, director of UC International Services. “This holistic approach includes campus stakeholders like the UC Alumni Association.

“Co-curricular programs engage international students with American students and the greater university community. While helping them understand American culture, these programs are critical to their success and willingness to remain engaged with UC following graduation.”

Because the UCAA works hard to make sure every UC living alumnus feels part of the same family, alumni connections are flourishing around the world. To ensure those ends, the association plans increasingly popular events for international students each year.

Holiday festivities

In early December, the UCAA played a new partnership role in UC International’s 15th annual holiday festivities. More than 80 international students enjoyed a traditional American holiday feast served in the Myers Alumni Center, followed by an excursion to the Cincinnati Zoo’s Festival of Lights.

Students also heard from Teik Lim, interim dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science; Wendy Yip, President Santa Ono’s wife and UC’s first lady; Xuemao Wang, dean of University Libraries; and Eric Abercrumbie, A&S ’87, UC’s director of ethnic programs and services.

“We often talk about the importance of family and how that term applies to UC students and alumni,” said UCAA executive director Myron Hughes, Bus ’86. “International students often stay here during the holiday break, so they do not get to be with their families back home. Getting together like this reinforces the idea that we are all Bearcats regardless of where we came from or where we’re going.

“We are pleased to cultivate a family atmosphere and add some cheer as the semester ends and the holidays arrive.”

Graduation reception

The defining moment for international stu-dents is when they receive their degrees and formally become UC alumni. Each year, their success is celebrated prior to spring commencement at the Myers Alumni Center with a reception hosted by the UCAA and Cultural Connections, a student group that helps incoming international students become acclimated to UC.

This reception’s popularity has grown quickly in its first three years. The last event drew more than 100 students who celebrated and started building alumni networks — and even spent quality time with the Bearcat mascot.

“This is such an important event because it’s their last program before leaving UC,” Cushing said. “It’s our last chance to encourage them to become active and engaged alumni.”


LINK: UC Alumni Association website