Think back to your first day at college. For some of us it may be longer than we want to admit. It was a time of big changes in your life. You were no longer the “big” person on campus. There was a whole new schedule and vibe to college. And, to make matters worse, they expected you to study. For those that went off to college, you had the added challenge of a new city to navigate and no mother to cook your meals or do your laundry.
Now consider what it would be like if you were studying in a different country. You would have the extra challenges of having to adjust to a whole new culture, new foods and a new language. All of this with your support group thousands of miles away. You are particularly reminded of this as you step off the plane, sleep deprived, needing to find the campus and a place to live.
This is why International Students Inc. (ISI) exists—to share Christ's love with international college students during a time when they need it most.
Since 1953, ISI has been training Americans to meet international students' needs. These Americans befriend international students and help them adjust to American culture. ISI staff and volunteers are working on 677 campuses across the country, including the University of New Mexico, to orient and acquaint international students to their new home and cultural experience.
In fact, many universities encourage students in their acceptance letter to reach out to ISI for assistance in acclimating.
In 2018 alone, the UNM ISI Team:
- Served 1,600 lunches,
- Picked up 120 students from the airport,
- Hosted 105 students for temporary homestays,
- Helped 65 students find housing,
- Helped 190 students get furniture for their apartments, and
- Hosted almost 300 students at the Welcome center.
ISI is touching the lives of countless students, helping them to settle into life in Albuquerque. But ISI’s reach does not stop there. Seventy students participated in hiking and sightseeing groups. Over 125 students were paired with Friendship Partners who meet at least monthly with the student to have fun and assist with life’s little challenges. Additionally, twenty-five students participated in Bible Studies, fifty students attended Home Groups and four made a profession of faith.
The impact of this work is multiplied when these students return home to share their faith, literally all over the world.
Maybe the coolest part of it all is that God lets us be a part of what he is doing. There are so many opportunities to get engaged, all with the opportunity to have some fun, meet some really interesting and energetic students, and to do something eternally meaningful. In fact, ISI will be looking for help in a number of ways, including:
- Picking students up at the airport,
- Hosting short-term home stays (2-5 nights) where you simply need to get the student to the Welcome Center each morning and pick them up a the end of the day,
- Assist student’s in finding an apartment,
- Picking up and delivering furniture,
- Organizing and leading hiking and sight-seeing trips,
- Become a Friendship Partner (monthly activities with the same student throughout their stay at UNM)
- Assisting with English classes,
- Donate meals or furniture, and
- Most importantly, you can pray.
All of this is starting now! Stan Schug and I get constant requests for volunteers. If you can help just let us know your interest and when you are available, we will help get you connected. If your not sure bring your questions to us, or better yet, join us on an ISI event—you won’t regret it.