From left, Chelsea Fu, Jason Villasenor, and Ronnie Grider participate in an ALANA
orientation session, completing surveys and evaluations in Buck Computer Lab.
Illinois Wesleyan First-Years Engage in Community-Building
August 18, 2008
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Though the Class of 2012 is officially welcomed to campus on Tuesday,
Aug. 19, some Illinois Wesleyan University first-years have already begun the process
of immersing themselves in the IWU and Bloomington-Normal communities: 35 incoming
international students from 12 countries met in the “global lounge” Friday, Aug. 15.
The following day, 36 ALANA (African-American, Latino American, Asian American, and
Native American) students arrived on campus. The International Student Orientation
and the ALANA Student Orientation are voluntary programs designed to enhance the six-day "Turning Titan: New Student Orientation” program for all incoming students.
The International Student Orientation is meant to help incoming first-years adjust
to the practicalities of living in the United States. Participants were offered language
tutors, information technology sessions and faculty panels explaining Illinois Wesleyan
academic expectations. Students also spent time socializing through activities such
as shopping and bowling. “The most important part of what this orientation does is
to give these students a chance to create their own community before joining 500 or
more students,” said Stacey Shimizu, director of the international office.
According to International Student Advisor Reenie Bradley, the orientation program
would not be the same without the help of returning international students, particularly
the Office’s three student assistants. “My assistants want to give back to the next
group, and that is what I find most rewarding – to see the older students pay it forward
to the next group. We truly have a global village, with all our international students
helping each other, no matter what their culture,” said Bradley. Members of the Bloomington-Normal
community, along with the University’s faculty and staff, also joined the global village
this year, inviting groups of two to eight students over for home-cooked meals. “The
dinners were a really special way to welcome the students into the community, and
we hope that involvement continues to grow next year,” said Bradley.
The ALANA Student Orientation also relied upon help from the community to make their
program successful. Through “mentoring mixers,” participating students were individually
paired with Bloomington-Normal minority professionals. Mentors committed to making
meaningful contact with their students once a month, through exchanging e-mails or
inviting them to events within the community that speak to shared cultures. Participants
also met with a panel of minority faculty and returning students.
“It’s affirming for students to see themselves reflected in campus and community members,”
Director of Multicultural Student Affairs Nicole Brown-Davis said. “That’s why our
ALANA Leaders are so valuable. They bring credibility of experience. After participating
in the Multicultural Office’s Summer Enrichment Program, they are well-trained to
offer support to students.” Seven ALANA Leaders facilitated the orientation program
“The ALANA orientation is not about ‘playing catch-up,’” said Brown-Davis. “Instead,
the goal is to help students make sense of campus resources and to empower them to
ask the sophisticated questions when it comes to getting the most out of their Illinois
For additional information about ALANA Student Orientation, contact Brown-Davis at
(309) 556-3412. For more about International Student Orientation, contact Shimizu
at (309) 556-3190.
Contact: Teresa A. Sherman ’09, (309) 556-3181