It’s important to know about your university before you work on it with the students. The article “Partnering with the International Student Services Office” touches on this briefly. After all, the vision is not just to see students come to a Christian community. It is to see campuses renewed – the entire campus, not just one corner of it.
- Learn the demographics of your university. What percentage of the students enrolled are international students? Don’t assume – did you know that 25% of all students at Arkansas State University are internationals? Where do most of the students come from? This will help you plan the best ways to outreach. Most Asian students, for example, will have little knowledge about Christianity, while many African students may be searching for a vibrant Christian group they can grow in.
- Find out where international students will be. Does your school have international dorms? Is there an area of the community known as the place where internationals find apartments? Knowing this will better inform you on where to seek out students or where American student leaders should be to build relationships. Are there places on campus where students tend to group, such as the Union? If your school has a large field on campus, you might find students playing cricket or football (the world’s kind of football). You’re also likely to find students at nearby ethnic restaurants. If you have these places in mind before the school year even starts, it will be easier for you to put out fliers, tables, or information where students will see it.
- Get to know faculty and administrators. Those who work with international students will provide the most mutual benefits, but having a strong relationship with faculty can help your group. Some faculty will refer their international students to InterVarsity groups if they know there are people there who care about the students – and having an English conversation group is a big plus as well.
- Be aware of the regulations and rules regarding campus groups. Are you going to be a registered organization? You probably need students to be official presidents, treasurers, etc. Do volunteers need to be registered somewhere? Be sure to know that information beforehand.
If you have a solid grasp on the ins and outs of your university, planning your events and outreach will run more smoothly.