The International Student Association is dedicated to ensuring international students at OCCC make long-lasting social connections here in the U.S., said Sierra Viagas, club president.
“We pretty much intermingle,” Viagas said. “A lot of international students come [to OCCC] and it’s hard for them to make friends outside of their culture — they’re normally pretty shy.”
Viagas said ISA is comprised of both American and international students. She said the ISA finds ways to enable international students to interact with other students at OCCC, such as planning field trips or other social functions.
“We find a way to help people get to know people not just at [OCCC], but within the community.”
Viagas said one thing the ISA did last year was expose its international members to the Oklahoma State Fair.
“It was the first time that the people from ISA had ever been to the State Fair,” Viagas said. “It was a new experience for them. It was a lot of fun.”
Viagas said this semester, the ISA is planning to take a trip somewhere like Dallas or Branson, Mo.
She said ISA meetings generally consist of discussing what sights the international students are interested in seeing during their time here, such as musicals, plays or museums.
Faculty Sponsor and Computer Science Professor Haifeng Ji said the ISA helps international students to gain more friends so they can make connections with people from their home country or sustain friendships with American students.
“[The ISA] helps the cultural exchange between international students and domestic students … so they can learn about [each others’ culture],” Ji said.
Ji said the ISA was established at OCCC 20 years ago.
He has been the faculty sponsor for 12 years.
“In the past, the ISA has taken trips to San Antonio, Denver and Lincoln, Neb.,” he said.
He said the ISA is still deciding where to take their trip this semester, but he’s sure wherever it is, it will be a lot of fun. He said the ISA plans to host a bake sale to fund the trip.
For information about the ISA and future meeting dates, contact Ji at 405-682-1611, ext. 7381.
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