Programs for Students
The Office of International Services (OIS) is a welcoming space that is open every day for international students who may drop in to ask questions, communicate concerns, or just stop by to chat with an intern or a staff member. It is also a space that hosts multiple events throughout the year to accomplish one or more of our goals, which includes creating community, celebrating and enjoying our International identity, and showing the world around us what being International means to each and everyone of us. The diversity of Vassar students who hail from countries around the world is celebrated through the collective efforts of all the Internationals on campus, as the OIS, we here in the office strive to support these students in every way possible.
International Student Orientation
International Student Orientation (ISO)
This unique orientation welcomes incoming international students, exchange students and language fellows and offers them a guided introduction to Vassar College. International Student Orientation (ISO for short) takes place three days prior to the general New Student Orientation and provides a series of activities geared to increase cultural awareness and to help new international students with their transition to Vassar. The events range from personal pick-ups at the airport to information sessions about crucial on-campus resources to a barbecue by Sunset Lake. The purpose of ISO is to ensure that our international freshmen begin their journey at Vassar in the best possible way.
International Host Program
Day Trip to NYC
A Vassar alumna who faced transition challenges during her tenure at Vassar established the Boonsri Sophonpanich Fund to support programs and events that help native Asian students adjust to their new life at Vassar. This fund sponsors a day trip to New York City to visit destinations such as Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Natural History Museum, or the Empire State Building. This trip allows for the Asian internationals to become familiar with the city, it's public transportation, and entertaining sights.
Around the World
Around the World is a series of culture-specific events intended to bring together international and American students and allow students to learn about different countries within a specific continent through music, a variety of food, fun facts, and interesting discussions on relevant topics and current affairs. Students from a particular continent are invited to weigh in with their knowledge and share their areas of expertise in various cultural contexts. OIS organizes four ATW events throughout the year: Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa.
Lenses is a unique event which addresses the transitional issues that students from Asia encounter at Vassar. This event features a keynote speaker and alum panelists, followed by a dinner and conversation on the challenges at Vassar for international Asians. It is an opportunity for Asian peers to support one another and for OIS to figure out some strategies to further support these students.
Discover America was created to allow participants to trace the cultural differences between America and the various regions included in Asia as well as students invited to represent their view of the culture from their own countries. Students engage in discussions about notions of cultural differences and uniqueness, individualism v/s collectivism, identity, and diversity. Vassar faculty members, administrators, and students provide their personal narrative about what it means to be American, how life in America differs from life at home, and/or how they go about navigating their American experience.
OIS Open House
OIS holds several open houses each semester. OIS open houses are perfect opportunities for international students to reconnect over a meal or snacks, enjoy activities (usually themed if there is a holiday coming), and to unwind together. These are also the perfect oppurtunity for students to get their I-20s signed before Winter and Summer Breaks.
Social Security and DMV Trips
International Day of Peace
The International Day of Peace is always in September and the OIS tries every year to present a project at Vassar made from the ideas and words of students. This past year (2015) in order to celebrate, OIS asked members of the Vassar community to reflect on the question "What does peace mean to you?" and write their answer on a feather. We then took the answers and glued them into the shape of a dove and hung it in the college center! Here's a picture of one of our interns holding the completed dove.
International Week of Education (IEW)
International Week of Education (IEW)
OIS organizes a number of exciting events to celebrate IEW, to share the cultures of the international students from around the world who attend Vassar College. These events include a photo contest, a tea and (henna) tattoo day, a trivia night, and much more.
International Photo Contest
This annual photo contest exhibits a variety of photographs and images from all over the world to celebrate diversity. All students (juniors who studied abroad, Americans, internationals, etc.) are invited to submit photographs of places, people, and cultures they have explored during their travels. International students are specifically encouraged to submit their photographic experiences within the U.S. or other countries they have been to. Voting for the best photos and the announcement of winners occurs during Kaleidoscope.
In collaboration with Vassar International Students Association (VISA), OIS is involved in organizing Kaleidoscope, a celebration of cultural diversity at Vassar. This event is one of the biggest and most popular events on campus. Cuisines from all over the world--Middle Eastern, Asian, American, European, African, and Latin American--are served at this annual event. In addition, different cultural activities take place during Kaleidoscope, such as:
- Dessert Cook-off: A contest featuring delicious international desserts. Selected faculty, staff, and students, taste, judge, and announce the winners who receive gift certificates at the end of the contest.
- Flag Ceremony: Hosted by representatives of the World Peace Organization, international students represent their countries by carrying their national flags and sharing fun facts about their homeland with the Vassar community.
- World’s Got Talent: The purpose of this event is to display talented entertainment from all over campus. Performances may include comic sketches, singing, and dancing.
Life Right After Vassar
Thanksgiving at the Meades
Our phenomenal director of International Services Andrew Meade and his family host a Thanksgiving dinner for those who are on campus during the holiday break, both internationals and Americans. Thanksgiving at the Meades’ is an event full of joy and laughter, where a lot of delicious turkey is eaten and a lot of fun games are played. Andrew expresses his delight to host Thanksgiving as “his favorite day out of the whole year.”
International Dance Festival (IDF)
IDF is a cultural event organized by OIS in collaboration with the leaders of various campus culture and dance groups. The purpose of this event is to celebrate a variety of cultures through masterpieces of dance at Vassar, with hopes that it will turn out to become one of the biggest and most anticipated events on campus and within the broader Mid-Hudson Valley area. IDF features an array of unique traditional music from different parts of the world, live performances, interactive dance with audience engagement, and colorful costumes. IDF engages Vassar students and the surrounding community to rejoice in cultures from all over the world through dance.