At the University of Rhode Island, the “ONCAMPUS” Rhode Island program is a language support program for first-year international students that gives them opportunities to learn more about American culture.
According to Program Director Linda Foley-Vinay, the international students undergo a sort of hybrid program, taking two or three courses with all other URI students and then two to three courses that are limited to them. “The point of [these classes] is to make sure that they’re learning how to be successful students in the United States and how to develop those skills and habits that are necessary for success,” Foley-Vinay said.
There are 22 students in the “ONCAMPUS” program from all different locations around the world.
“[‘ONCAMPUS’] is a very diverse program, and we would like to be even more diverse,” Foley-Vinay said. “Right now we have students from India, Pakistan, Nigeria, China, Taiwan, Republic of Congo, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Croatia. We’re unique because some schools just choose one general area of the world and concentrate their recruitment there, but we’ve got a nice diverse group.”
“ONCAMPUS” is a program that affects the community as a whole. “The idea and the mission of bringing this program here to URI is to help diversify and bring more international students in,” Foley-Vinay said. “It gives URI students an opportunity to meet other students from other parts of the world that they might not have met.”
Foley-Vinay described how the location and community of URI are big factors that attract international students. Being in-between Boston and New York City, the URI campus is a perfect spot in the middle of everything for students to stay.
Like many first-year college students, some face challenges adjusting to college life.
“That transition from having a very structured learning experience at the high school level and then coming to an environment where you’re expected to be an autonomous learner and make your own best decisions for yourself is a really hard transition, especially when you’re also making all of these big changes,” Employee Assistance program instructor Michael Robinson said.
International students face their own unique challenges. “I think being acculturated to living in the United States is a challenge for some, not all,” Foley-Vinay said. “Some of our students are very exposed to the U.S. and American culture and for other students, it’s more difficult because it might be their first encounter.”
“ONCAMPUS” is important, not only to the students but for faculty involved as well. “I probably most enjoy getting to know the students and I feel like I learn more from them than they probably learn from me,” Robinson said.
Student Success Advisor Alexis Hall said, “I really love meeting and talking with the students because they’re experiencing this kind of U.S. college experience for the first time, and it really allows you to see things from their perspective and kind of fall in love with the great parts of that again and that happens every time we get new students so that’s something that’s really exciting to be a part of.”