By Eva Liu Glick

International Integration Spectrum Models

There are 3 general approaches for ISM to take place in an integrated context, as there are 3 ways to use ice cream toppings:  Both toppings and int’l students can be “blended into” your ice cream or chapter (ISM with no apparent or separate ministry structures), “sprinkled on top” (ISM as an extension that is closely connected to the chapter), or on the side (ISM as separate entity from main chapter or a separate chapter with strong ties to undergrad/grad chapter). 

Determining Factors for which approach is most suitable includestudent demographics (cultural assimilation, language fluency, desire for friendship with Americans, persecution in home country etc.), campus dynamics (campus culture, international presence on campus etc.), and InterVarsity setting (available leaders, vision and cross-cultural fluency of chapter etc.). 


Blended in

Sprinkled on Top

On the Side


No apparent or separate ministry structure for ISM

ISM as an arm of main fellowship (ex. ISM SG/Bible Study)

- ISM as separate chapter with strong partnership with traditional chapter, or

- Separate outreaches (ex. underground or informal GIGs etc. for safety reasons)

Factors & Settings

- High - assimilation, language fluency, desire for friendship, low persecution

- Welcoming campus

- Either very strong int’l presence or very low numbers

Average assimilation, fluency, desire for friendship, welcoming campus culture, & percentage of internationals

- Low - assimilation, fluency, desire for friendship, & high persecution

- Large population from same country


Top Strengths

- Internationals influence/ lead chapter

- Reaches internationals who prefer being with Americans

- Safe environment for internationals

- Internationals influence whole chapter

- Functional for the widest range of settings

Reaches those from most intensely persecuted settings, are less assimilated, &/or with high language barriers


Top Challenges

Unique & subtle needs of internationals are easily missed

- Segregation from rest of chapter

- Chapter structure can impose restrictions

Need new or adjusted structures and possibly more leaders

Recommended Goals for  American Staff/ Volunteers/ student leaders

- Empower internationals to influence chapter & lead along-side Americans

- Recognize & meet internationals’ unique needs (ex. cultural adaptation & language barriers, academic pressure, contextualized discipleship, re-entry or return home, family & political persecution at home etc.)

- Promote healthy relationship with rest of chapter. Cast vision for Americans

- Empower internationals lead with freedom & independence in ISM-specific settings while still influencing larger chapter decisions or direction

- Be incarnational: go to them instead of having them come to us

- Be creative, contextualize & think outside the box;

- Validate & utilize informal events for relationship-building, discipleship, evangelism, & leadership development


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