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Office of Global Engagement seeks to build community, student resources

Under new leadership, OGE hopes to foster community among international students

Following Shankar Prasad’s MA’03 PhD’06 appointment to the role of associate provost for global engagement in July, the Office of the Provost tapped Shontay Delalue, adjunct assistant professor of American studies, for the position of assistant provost for global engagement in October.

Delalue’s appointment marked an expansion for the Office of Global Engagement, which is tasked with thinking “about how Brown partners with various institutions around the world to promote opportunities for faculty research and student learning,” Prasad said. Prasad’s role involves addressing the University’s different needs pertinent to “internationalization,” he said.

The internationalization that the OGE is working to expand is three-fold. The first aspect is seeking and maintaining partnerships with other institutions to learn how Brown can engage with the world outside of Providence and how students can conduct various types of research abroad. The second is the services and opportunities the OGE provides to create support for international community members. The third is the office’s own Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan, which aims to foster a feeling of inclusiveness among international students, Prasad said.

The OGE is now focusing on the collective needs of international students and the structural issues that impact them by trying to create a sense of belonging among students and working toward attaining “comprehensive internationalization,” Delalue said.

The office is employing various methods to identify areas of the international student experience that the University could help to improve. The University has conducted focus groups with international students and has created an international advisory board, Delalue and Prasad said.

Some of the latest developments involve “more strategic programming for students,” Delalue said. The OGE is trying to connect with student leaders of existing international student organizations on campus and provide “specific programming based on (grade) level.” For example, a first-year undergraduate international student may be in need of different sorts of assistance than a sophomore who is in the process of selecting a concentration and getting an internship in the United States.

Another step toward improvement includes “centralizing all requests,” Prasad said. Students are often confused about where to go and whom to contact for a particular problem. “The goal is to take that question and quickly identify who’s the right office so the student doesn’t have to struggle,” Prasad added.

Through the OGE, the Office of the Provost hopes to identify ways the University can learn “from the international community on how to improve their experiences,” wrote Provost Richard Locke in an email to The Herald. Facilitating dialogue between the administration and the international community has involved creating the Global Brown Community and Support service, which “acts as a one-stop shop” for international students with questions or concerns, as well as launching the Global Brown Coordinating Committee to improve coordination among the different “global-facing offices,” he added.

The OGE is also working closely with CareerLAB and the Office of Alumni Relations to assist students with visas in identifying career opportunities and connecting with other international students who are staying and working in the United States after graduation, Delalue said.

Delalue’s overall vision for the office involves viewing “international affairs in the context of diversity and inclusion.” For example, she hopes to counter the myth that all international students are wealthy, she said.

Twelve percent of undergraduates at Brown are international students, compared to just 5 percent at most other institutions. With this in mind, domestic students “should be taking advantage of what it means to be (attending) a global institution,” Delalue said.

— Additional reporting by Alex Skidmore



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