The 2019-2020 academic year showed us (and many on campus) just how resilient and adaptable CSU and the Office of International Programs can be when meeting unexpected challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic had a tremendous effect on our office and the people we serve during the last quarter of the academic year.
In March 2020, as the CSU campus became remote to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, our work ramped up even further. We assisted students studying abroad to come home and international students to navigate the new and evolving situation so they could return to their home countries, if they wished. At the same time, we adapted our programming and content to better meet people where they were (mainly at home). The sections after this introduction showcase more of our events, programs, and updates from 2019-2020 academic year so you can see the big picture of the whole year.
As we rolled into summer 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement grew and it was important to acknowledge the deep pain and hurt caused by racism in the United States. We have renewed our commitment to fighting against the systemic racism, xenophobia, and discrimination that plagues the U.S. and the world. We commit to doing better so we can help to improve this world.
Later in the summer, the decision was made to cancel fall 2020 education abroad programs and worked to clarify the situation for international students related to ICE guidance. We communicated to campus through two town halls on the subjects although in one case, the content became outdated as the situation changed significantly after only a few hours.
An Interconnected World
As the pandemic continues and uncertainty is the new norm, one thing is certain: the world will always need international programs, activities, partnerships, and friendships. It may be hard right now to imagine the rest of the world when travel is so limited and our mindset is on our local environments. However, we have faith that the world will always remain as interconnected and interdependent as it has grown to be. We know students will study abroad again and people continue to be curious about the world and global cultures. International students will come to our campus in ever-increasing numbers because of how welcome they feel here. This future is our driving force.
As I wrote last year (and it remains true this year), I look forward to what the coming years will bring for the Office of International Programs.
Vice Provost for International Affairs
Our International Ramily
International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) oversees international admissions, orientation and arrival, regulatory compliance, immigration and sponsor services, and programming for our international students and scholars. The pandemic drastically impacted ISSS operations and programs, but the changes did not affect the data below due to the timing of the pandemic in the U.S.
Starting with the 2020-2021 school year and beyond, we expect to see lower international student and scholar enrollment numbers related to the pandemic and other external factors, such as political climate. As always, we strive to create a welcoming environment for our returning and incoming international students and scholars at CSU.
International Student Enrollment
Top 8 Departments for International Students Are:
1) Electrical and Computer Engineering
2) Computer Science
3) Civil and Environmental Engineering
5) Computer Information Systems
6) Mechanical Engineering
8) Chemical and Biological Engineering
Education Abroad offers a variety of international programs to students including for-credit and not-for-credit opportunities for study, research, internships, and service learning. Starting in March 2020, we asked students to return to the U.S. to minimize health risks. The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is reflected in the chart below due to programs being canceled. We expect that the pandemic will have lasting effects on study abroad in future academic years. To prepare for these effects and better serve our student population, we adapted in-person information sessions and the annual Education Abroad fair to become virtual this year.
One important achievement of 2019-2020 to note was that it was the best year ever for our diversity abroad efforts. Much of this is due to the Global Access award and innovations in strategic programming to attract a more diverse student group. We hope that these numbers will continue to grow once students are able to study abroad again. You can view the diversity abroad statistics as well as other numbers here.
Todos Santos Center
Before the COVID-19 pandemic affected Mexico and the U.S. starting in March, the CSU Todos Santos Center hosted and facilitated 29 experiential learning programs for 192 people from CSU, other U.S. universities, and non-profit organizations. The center also offers year-round English language classes to over 234 local residents.
To continue serving its mission during the pandemic, the staff at the Todos Santos Center provided virtual English classes to the local population, virtual Spanish immersion classes for those in the U.S. looking to learn, and a cooking demo on how to make chilaquiles for the Cooking with International Programs video series.
Overall CSU Education Abroad Participation Rates
Top three colleges that sent the highest percentage of their majors abroad:
1) Warner College of Natural Resources
2) College of Health and Human Sciences
3) College of Natural Sciences
Bringing the World to Campus
International Programs brings the world to campus through classroom-based and experiential education programs and facilitates institutional partnerships. Throughout the pandemic, we have worked on virtual programming and will continue to do so as well as maintain our partnerships throughout the world.
We welcomed excellent speakers to campus, such as Ambassador Christopher Hill, former President Atifete Jahjaga from Kosovo, and reporter Julian Aguilar. As a way to bridge internationally-focused discussions internally and collaborations across campus, we started the International Affairs Committee.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic moved the campus remote, we held our first International Symposium in February 2020 and celebrated our 66th annual World Unity Fair. Additionally, we brought former UN Ambassador Susan Rice to campus as the key speaker for CSU’s Founders Day.
The Confucius Institute at CSU offers classes in Chinese language for adults and children, tai chi, kung fu, calligraphy, and Chinese cooking. Currently, Chinese language classes for adults and children are being offered virtually. The Cooking with International Programs video series included a Chinese cooking demo for sweet and sour pork from the cooking teacher.
Some of the virtual programs included musical performances, the Global Connections podcast, and panel discussions with CSU professors. The cooking demo series called Cooking with International Programs started as a way to allow international students and staff to share recipes and cooking demos from their homelands. We also developed CSU community-focused events, such as trivia nights and coffee hours, and interaction via social media to help decrease the loneliness and isolation felt by students and staff during quarantine.