Cultural ambassadors set to become independent group

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly affiliated the Cultural Ambassadors program with the International Students’ Organization. 

Liza Zulick | Staff Writer

This semester, to aid with international students’ transition to life at Duquesne, the Office of International Programs is planning to make its Cultural Ambassadors program an independent, student-run organization.

The Office of International Programs currently uses student cultural ambassadors to act as liaisons for prospective and accepted international students as they acclimate to life in Pittsburgh. Duquesne International Admissions Assistant Anna Tang and Administrative Assistant Rachael English are now looking to make the cultural ambassadors a student-run organization.

“You don’t realize how many international students are here,” said Liana Amery, a cultural ambassador. “This program gives you the opportunity for new cultural experiences.”

Because the program is continuing to grow, the Office of International Programs hopes that by the end of this semester it will become an official student organization.

The mission of the program is to “promote intercultural understanding and global awareness on campus,” according to the Cultural Ambassador program handbook. The program, which started several years ago, came to be when “students volunteered to assist with emails to prospective students who had questions about the university,” said Michele Janosko, the advisor for the International Student Organization. The Office of International Programs saw this as an opportunity to connect current students with incoming international students, Tang added.

The role of a cultural ambassador is to help with welcoming, recruiting and maintaining connections with international students within the program. There are currently 78 students involved with the program and about 200 international students who are accepted to Duquesne each year. The program is always accepting more cultural ambassadors, especially since the program seeks to pair each individual student up with an ambassador, according to Tang.

“We like to give the international students someone to actually talk to, rather than looking everything up online,” said Tang.

Cultural ambassadors help international students with anything they need to feel more comfortable here on campus. They also share their knowledge about dorm life, campus activities, classroom etiquette and what it’s like to attend school in the United States.

Another project the Office of International Programs is continuing is the “American Traditions Series,” a series of events aimed at helping international students learn about American culture and navigate life in the United States. Activities such as shopping at the Grove City Outlets, ice skating, snow tubing, Pirate games and haunted hayrides will be featured — one of which will be organized by the Cultural Ambassadors program itself, Tang said.

“It gives the opportunity to integrate all of the students in a way that is meaningful for everyone,” Tang said. “Almost all the [ambassadors] are study abroad returnees, who have had such a meaningful experience they want to share the experience and knowledge they learn.”