International students welcomed to Elon during orientation

More than 50 first-year, exchange and transfer international students were welcomed during New International Student Orientation.

The Office of International Admission and The Isabella Cannon Global Education Center (GEC) hosted a breakfast on Thursday, Aug. 17 to welcome more than 50 first-year, exchange and transfer international students during New International Student Orientation.

An international student takes a selfie with Patty O’Brien, Assistant Director of International Admissions, at the International Breakfast, August 17, 2023, in McKinnon Hall on the campus of Elon University.

As the students and their families enjoyed the breakfast, they also bonded with fellow students and faculty and staff who will become their support systems during their times at Elon.

“Our community is more robust with you here,” said Patty O’Brien ’06, assistant director of international admissions. “The emphasis that Elon places on study abroad and international education helps students grow as individuals and develop knowledge and skills for living in an increasingly globally interdependent and culturally diverse world.”

International Student Orientation was a three-day affair where students arrived before the usual Move-in Day to provide time adjust to Elon. Students were given a campus tour, information sessions on important topics such as health insurance, visa regulations and banking, and explored the surrounding area to get necessary items.

Dean of Global Education and Assistant Professor Nick Gozik, speaks with international students at the International Breakfast, August 17, 2023, in McKinnon Hall on the campus of Elon University.

President Connie Ledoux Book spoke to international students about the power of relationships and how it is a significant element of the Elon experience. With intentionally intimate class sizes and a culture situated around engagement, Book reminded students of how much their presence at Elon helps the university.

Book also shared the “H.A.L.T.” model with the students which warn of the dangers of being too hungry, angry, lonely or tired.

“Try not to get too hungry, too angry, too lonely or too tired because not much good happens after any of those four categories,” Book said. “Try to take care of yourself so that you can truly engage in the rich opportunities that you have with each other over the course of your time here.”

Nick Gozik, dean of global education, spoke to the incoming international students about the global strategic plan that the GEC has been working on since 2019. Beyond ranking as the number one study abroad program for 17 consecutive years, the GEC has also put considerable support behind the Global Neighborhood on campus in collaboration with the Center for Research on Global Engagement.

International Breakfast, August 17, 2023, in McKinnon Hall on the campus of Elon University.

“We take this for granted at Elon but it has been built over decades. We’ve already done a lot but we’re now thinking about what is the next stage,” Gozik said. “How do we make sure that global is really comprehensive in our classes and our activities of everything that we do on this campus?”

The answer to this is surveying faculty on how they work with international students, bolstering services for ESL (English as a second language) instruction, transportation support, and a myriad of other angles that can make the international experience at Elon smoother.

“We continue to think about each and every one of you,” Gozik said.

Kristen Aquilino, director of international student services, charged students to nourish their curiosity during their time at Elon. She ended by extending gratitude to the international students, reminding students of their bravery and how important they already are to the Elon community.

“I can speak on behalf of all the dedicated colleagues in this room by saying that in facilitating this opportunity for you all, we’re really living our dreams alongside with you,” Aquilino said.