The International Student Organization at Bob Jones University eases the transition to America for international students who may not be familiar with American culture.
BJU recognizes how drastic the cultural change can be when a student comes from a different country and provides an invitation to international students to become a part of this organization to build a community of familiar faces.
Nicoll Botero, ISO student president, described the organization as a family that wants to get to know each other better so that they can grow and become more like Christ.
While giving international students a sense of community, the ISO also serves international students through various events held throughout the year like an ice cream social, various worship services and an International Food Festival. Botero advised students to be on the lookout for several events held this semester for international students.
Samantha Carey, an international student and previous secretary of the organization, said, “I got to meet new people, and they helped me transition into all my classes and constantly encouraged me, especially when I became homesick.” Carey’s advice for all students is to get involved, even those who are not international students.
Not only does the ISO provide a community and a sense of home, but it provides a relaxed atmosphere for students to unite in Christ. One familiar event held by the organization is the worship services where students from all countries can sing in their own languages. “We like it to be a time where everyone can come together and worship, and we will choose songs that everyone knows in their native language,” Botero said. The ISO holds a variety of worship nights throughout the year. “We want more people to join us because we are a typical family,” Botero said.
Mr. Mark Vowels, faculty adviser for the ISO, said, “[The ISO’s] purpose is to serve international students with activities, but also to serve as a bridge with domestic BJU students so that they can learn about other cultures and have a greater sense of the world around them.” Mr. Vowels said he advises all students to make the most of their opportunities by experiencing new things and finding things that are completely new to them.
“If you ever want to travel, the best way to start traveling is getting to know people from other cultures,” Botero said. “God created diversity for a reason, and he wants us to be diverse. The church is supposed to be diverse, and we embrace that concept.”