The Office of Global Services did not host the international pre-orientation program for the second year running, instead choosing to run the program as part of New Student Orientation in an effort to ensure that international students fully integrate into the university community.
OGS is committing to the program for four more years with the potential for further extension if students support the change.
According to OGS Director of International Student and Scholar Services Rachel Rubin, the decision to eliminate IPO as its own program was not financially motivated but driven by feedback from the international community at Georgetown. Rubin said OGS wanted to ensure that students did not get confined to one international friend group.
“It’s really the surveys we have from the international students’ community, which say that by the end of four years, they wish they had met more Americans,” Rubin said. “So we weighed the decision to bring them in early so you have more time to adjust versus you create a friend group that prejudices you against New Student Orientation and makes it so you don’t need to integrate on your floor and so you don’t really need the rest of the Georgetown community.”
The international parent orientation, which includes information specific to international students such as immigration compliance, will remain.
Although the core of previous IPO programming is included in the NSO schedule, IPO is not officially acknowledged as part of NSO, according to Emma Barnitt (MSB ’17), a NSO 2016 coordinator.
“We are not affiliated with any pre-orientation program specifically,” Barnitt said.
Rubin said she hopes the change will eliminate the cliques of international students that have formed in the past and allow them to better integrate into life at Georgetown.
“What we want is one Hoya community, not an international student community that is separated,” Rubin said. “We want them to feel good with each other as internationals and then we want them to be Hoyas.”
Natalia Peña (COL ’17), who is from the Philippines, participated in IPO her freshman year and credits the shared experience with many of her strongest friendships.
“That’s how I made most of my close friends. They were going through the same struggle I was, having family so far away and adjusting to a new culture,” Peña said. “I was going through a different adjustment compared to someone who was just moving from a different state. Having people who shared the same struggle as me really eased my entrance into the Georgetown experience.”
While Peña said she understands that IPO can foster cliques, she said combining it with NSO might rob incoming international students of a foundational bonding opportunity.
“It really helped to have those few extra days of adjustment because NSO is so overwhelming,” Peña said. “I do agree that sometimes the bubble created by IPO isolates internationals but I think that’s also a choice that people get to make.”