Mari Pressley

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — Winthrop University hosts international students from over 40 different countries and the school provides a number of resources for these students to help them adjust to life at a new school, in a new country.

One of those resources is the International Ambassador program, which is described as “a prestigious group of international students chosen to represent the international community at Winthrop,” according to the school’s website.

Hosted by the International Center, the program provides scholarships to international students who volunteer to represent their peers through programming and by attending events.

“I can see many people here and I can learn (about) culture, food and how to communicate with other people,” said Mahiro Tanaka, a student from Kyoto, Japan.

LeAnn Lowrey, assistant director of the International Center and an advisor to the international students, said education in the U.S. often has differences compared to other countries and Winthrop wants to ensure a smooth transition to the culture here.

“We have a full day of orientation and then we have, on Blackboard, a student international services page,” Lowrey said.

“We make sure that they understand and by law we’re required to make sure that they understand the immigration regulations of their student visa. So, that is something that the other student population wouldn’t be concerned about,” she said.

Jimmy Jean Pierre, a student from Haiti, said he has found the resources helpful.

“I had the chance to meet a lot of people and a lot of international students too. So, I think at the orientation, I made some friends and not only for school, but for the rest of my life,” Jean Pierre said.

Often during breaks, especially over the holidays, international students aren’t able to travel home, so Winthrop makes an effort to help students feel “at home” during their time abroad.

“Last Thanksgiving, I actually had Thanksgiving with Ms. Lowrey and her family, so it was really, really nice,” said Jah-nai Smith, a student from Bermuda and a member of the International Ambassador program.

“It just takes your mind off of missing your family and all that stuff, still having that family aspect. So, a lot of teachers and a lot of people here at the University will try to make us feel as welcome as possible and try to bring us in like their own kids.”