Making global connections on campus

Three students stand outside and smile at the camera

Fourth-year nursing student Tristan Strader of Reidsville, North Carolina loves to show off her home state. As part of Lenoir-Rhyne’s international peer advisor/leader (IPAL) program, she is able do just that by introducing exchange students to the region and helping them adjust to college.

“I was initially drawn to be an IPAL because I wanted to meet new people and learn more about other cultures firsthand,” said Strader. “I also really liked the idea of getting to show students North Carolina and all it has to offer.”

In addition to helping the students settle on campus, IPALs help with everyday tasks that may seem easy for the average student but can be complicated when English is not a first language. Strader often helps students set up printer logins, find tutors or even just learn how to check out library materials.

“I have been an IPAL for two semesters now and the main thing that I have done is to be a welcoming face to the students when they arrive. I enjoy helping them out in any way that I can,” said Strader. “We also take fun trips and get to go to new places together.”

One of Strader’s favorite activities, she added, is the shopping trips.

“Students are always very excited to go to Walmart and Target for the first time.”

The IPAL program not only benefits international students, but it provides U.S. students new perspectives. According to Director of International Education Brittany Marinelli, when U.S. students connect with international scholars it broadens their worldview.

“The IPAL program gives students the opportunity to develop intercultural skills and life-long friendships in a safe environment. Ultimately, establishing people-to-people connections increases mutual understanding and builds bridges between Americans and people of other countries,” she said.

The skills gained through programs such as IPAL make LR students better global citizens and more employable, added Marinelli.

“It enables them to be confident as they navigate the next steps in their life.”

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