How are International Students Impacted During the Holidays?

Photo courtesy of Pexels | The holidays for international students.

An interview from the Office of Global Affairs about how international students are impacted by the coming holidays.

This school year, campus will be closed for Christmas on Dec. 24, and for the New Year on Dec. 31. It was also closed on Nov. 25 for Thanksgiving and Nov. 26 for Native American Heritage Day. I sent in questions for the Office of Global Affairs to ask about how some of these closures affect international students. Here are their responses:

What sorts of essential services do students lose access to over the holiday breaks?

The University is open for services during holidays except Thanksgiving Day , Native American Heritage Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day this year. We have not received feedback that students are experiencing a loss of access to services during these breaks.

Are international students impacted particularly hard by these closures? If so, why?

Since the university closures are relatively few and short, we believe the impact is minimal. Students will be served within normal processing time. We ask for five business days to have their requests met.

What services or resources do students have access to over these holiday closures?

Pre-COVID, we had many ways for students to experience Thanksgiving (a unique American holiday which is new to many of our international students!). A couple of generous faculty members (Doctor Jeff Cohen and Menaka Abraham, Thank you!) have hosted a group of UWT international students at their homes for dinner on Thanksgiving in the past. We have also hosted a Thanksgiving potluck and someone from our staff brought a big turkey she baked at home! The Foundation for International Understanding Through Students (FIUTS) have local families who host students for dinner on Thanksgiving and our students have participated in that program. All these events are not taking place again this year due to the pandemic. Over this Thanksgiving holiday, our OGA Fellows planned an event in collaboration with SAB to take part in Black Friday festivities. Participants visited Southcenter Mall together to do some shopping. They also reserved a private theatre room at the mall to view Marvel’s new film, “Eternals.” During winter break, our office is open but we typically do not host events due to low attendance and staffing.

What more do you think the University can do to alleviate some of the troubles faced by

students over holiday breaks?

When the pandemic situation gets under control, we hope to resume events in which we can gather in a group setting, share food, and continue to build a supportive community for international students.

Is there anything the University is working on currently to help students over the break?

The Center for Service and Leadership (CSI) is offering the annual Adopt-A-Family Campaign. The Office of Global Affairs staff typically participate in this wonderful program. The CSI and the Center for Equity and Inclusion (CEI) are hosting the annual RSO Food Drive Competition.

For all students in need this holiday season, here is a website with a list of resources from UWT: https://www.tacoma.uw.edu/chancellor/resources-students-during-coronavirus-pandemic

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