By Claire Cameron
International students got a taste of Texas Tuesday at a welcome dinner.
Over 175 international students from all over the world sat down to a Western themed dinner Tuesday in the Cashion Banquet room. Cow noises played on a CD player in the doorway, a giant light up cowboy boot stood in the corner, and Texas Barbecue was served for dinner.
Vice President Dr. Karla Leeper welcomed the new students to Baylor on Judge Ken Starr’s behalf.
“I’m terribly sorry to be here tonight,” Leeper said. “Judge Starr has been under the weather. You have me instead.”
Leeper said students should get involved in campus and with other students at Baylor.
“You are the people who energize our campus,” Leeper said. “Get engaged in your classes. We really learn from each other.”
After dinner the students were introduced to the various resources available at Baylor such as, visas, health insurance and community programs. Students split into groups and traveled around the room to 10 different areas where coordinators from the CIE (center for international education) gave them information on student ministries, jobs, and the P.A.W.S program (people around the world sharing).
Melanie Smith, the International Student Relations Coordinator and the director of the P.A.W.S program, said it is important to welcome international students based on Baylor’s mission statement, which includes preparing students for worldwide leadership and service.
“We want to increase the number of international students that come to Baylor,” she said. “A lot of what we learn is from one another. We want to increase internationalization. To broaden students understandings of the world, how to relate, and where we are in the world.”
She said the purpose of the P.A.W.S program was meant to connect international students to American students and American families.
“The program has been around for 25 years,” Smith said. “We wanted to create student connections, first to understand traditions and develop connections. It’s great for both students to meet and get to know one another.”
Students also got a chance to become involved in Cross Cultural Ministries. Hector Castelltort, a member of Cross Cultural Ministries, was raised in Rio Bravo Tamaulipas, Mexico.
“We want to hear about your culture,” Castelltort said. “Being international and hearing about your background and talking about how it impacts your faith. Students are given a chance to share their culture together.”
The night ended with a snow cone party in the Cashion parking lot, closing out the welcome dinner for the students.
After the event, Italian exchange student senior Ciulia Virili said she felt excited for the upcoming semester, “Baylor is better than I expected. I like the feeling of being a part of the Baylor community.”