By Kenya Godette

Old Dominion University students, faculty and staff will celebrate International Education Week (IEW), a time to recognize the benefits of international education and global exchange, this week. Led by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education, this annual observance aligns with ODU's ongoing commitment to promote programs that equip students for success in an increasingly interconnected world, while attracting future leaders from abroad.

The Office of Intercultural Relations (OIR) has planned a variety of activities to commemorate IEW, connecting the ODU community with global perspectives.

This week features events like Coffee Hour with ODU International Admissions; Diwali, a fun-filled night of games, dancing and free food hosted by the Indian Students Association; an International Undergraduate mixer; and a Monarch Fulbright reception inviting those interesting in pursuing a Fulbright scholarship to meet with successful recipients. For a full list of events, click here.

In addition to the weeklong festivities, the OIR offers year-round international services to students.

At the university-level, the Center for Global Engagement serves as ODU’s official source of services for international students. From scholarship programs, faculty resources, study abroad information, and more, international students can connect with resources on their webpage.

International students can also connect through Global Student Friendship, a faith-based student organization.  Founded by Kurnia Foe who completed both of his doctoral programs at ODU, GSF addresses the challenges faced by international students upon arriving in the U.S., offering support for housing, community integration, and more.

“International students, in general, face many issues in multiple facets of their lives right after they arrive in the U.S.,” said Foe. “From affordable and safe housing to finding a community of supportive friends, the transition to American life can be daunting.”

Foe, having experienced these challenges firsthand when he moved from Indonesia to the U.S., developed the GSF to support international students from the moment they are accepted into ODU.

“We usually receive emails from students during move-in week asking for couches, mattresses, study desks, kitchen utensils and other things," Foe said. “Through Global Student Friendship, all the things they need are free of charge. No strings attached.”

After students arrive, GSF provides support for international students and their families for the duration of their settlement process. “We provide them with a safe place to grow and adjust in the U.S.,” said Foe. “In addition to tangible services all year round, we have seven major divisions through which we provide services to international students: weekly Tuesday lunch and Friday dinner, furniture, communication, special events, outreach, exchange student connect and programs for international wives. GSF student leaders and volunteers conduct all these services in partnership with community organizations and local churches.”

These services and initiatives are designed to create a supportive community for international students and reflect ODU’s dedication to global inclusivity.

Students and volunteers interested in connecting with the Global Student Friendship can visit the GSF Facebook page or email