Princeton Weekly Bulletin   September 16, 2007, Vol. 97, No. 1   prev   next   current

International students have a blast at pre-orientation

By Jennifer Greenstein Altmann

Princeton NJ — Ninety-four international students hailing from 38 countries got a hands-on introduction to Princeton University last week by fishing poker chips out of the Scudder Plaza fountain, doing push-ups on the top floor of Fine Tower and finding an upperclassmate in Firestone Library just by using the barcode of a nearby book. The scavenger hunt assignments were part of a four-day program tailored to introduce newly arrived international and exchange students to life at Princeton.

international students

Pre-orientation for new international students included a scavenger hunt that led these students to the cannon in front of Cannon Club, where they found a bundle of chocolate candies inside. (photo: Denise Applewhite)

“We want to provide them with a pipeline to everything Princeton has to offer,” said Rachel Baldwin, an assistant dean in the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students and the organizer of the Sept. 4-7 international pre-orientation. “And we want them to have an opportunity to meet each other. Sometimes that’s the hardest part for international students.”

Students found lots of other friendly faces during the program’s lunches, game nights and, of course, the scavenger hunt, which split the group into teams of eight students who were sent all over campus and into town to accomplish 14 Princeton-related assignments, including singing a song together while accompanying themselves on a piano at Forbes College, visiting Hoagie Haven and looking for a chocolate surprise in the cannon outside Cannon Club.

“I’m meeting lots of people from all over the world,” said Cristina Popa, who is from Romania, as she shared pizza with other students at a lunch outside Whig Hall. “It’s been really interesting, and I’ve made a couple of friends so far.”

The lunch was an opportunity for the students to sample kettle corn and snow cones and to mingle.

“I see a lot of international students, which I didn’t expect,” said Sara Munoz, a graduate student from Spain. “It’s good to connect with them at the beginning. Once you get into your program, it will be more difficult.”

Veteran international students served as volunteers to guide the new students.

“The program was so helpful to me last year, so I came back to volunteer to help this year,” said Auxilia Munhutu, a sophomore from Zimbabwe. She and 13 other upperclassmen explained residential college life, helped students move into their rooms and organized game nights.

Two-thirds of all new international and exchange students attended the pre-orientation, which included a session introducing them to student organizations, a tour of the campus libraries, a presentation about community service at Princeton and a shopping trip to purchase essentials for school.

Freshman Nelson Chiwara, who is from Zimbabwe, said the program “has helped me to get used to the American way of life and culture.” He also enjoyed the shopping excursion. “I love Wal-Mart.”

Nithiya Muthusamy, a native of Malaysia, was happy to have been introduced to the international community.

“Being an international student, I really wanted to connect with the international community,” he said. “I wanted to be keyed in to what the international community was doing — not just getting on the mailing list, but really getting to know them. Thus far it’s been great fun.”

Other freshmen participated in Outdoor Action and Community Action pre-orientation programs Sept. 2-8, which offered opportunities to make new friends while taking part in outdoor and volunteer activities. A total of 758 freshmen were involved in those programs, while upperclassmates provided guidance as leaders and mentors.

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