Every year, the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy admits international graduate students from across the globe. To provide a more personal welcome this year, the division hosted a Welcome Barbecue for the newest cohort of international Trojans.
Erna Blanche, associate professor of clinical occupational therapy, hosted the event at her Playa Del Rey home on Aug. 27, as students mingled with faculty and administrators. Together the group walked to the beach in the late afternoon, which for some, was their first experience of the Pacific Ocean.
“With the beach in the background, the sun out shining and the ocean breeze in our faces, it was the perfect get-to-know-you setting,” said Canadian graduate student Kim Wong.
To accelerate the international students’ acclimation to life and culture in Southern California, the division also began a mentorship program pairing incoming Trojans with upper-class students. These mentors can help answer questions about academics, about adjusting to Los Angeles or about other student issues such as transportation or housing.
“Our goal with this program is to provide the students an outlet and then let them form the relationships that work best for them,” said Kimberly Kelton, director of recruitment for the division.
“Mentoring is a great idea for us international students since it provides the opportunity to know more about American student perspectives,” said Samruddhi Ghaisas, an international graduate student from India. “It also provides you with an assurance that someone can help with your queries and guide as well as befriend you.”
By the end of the barbecue, the students were exchanging phone numbers and email addresses. They also are planning their next gathering in celebration of Diwali, the Indian “festival of lights” in late October.