The Office of International Programs offered a new service this month for exchange and international students: campus tours in foreign languages.
The tours were given to international students who had arrived on campus a couple days prior. The languages of the given tours ranged from Japanese and Chinese to Hindi and Korean. Jiwon Lee, a senior music major whose native language is Korean, came up with the idea of foreign language tours.
“In January 2017, I looked up Ole Miss on a Korean website that’s something like Google,” Lee said. “There were posts on the blogs that said, ‘I don’t know what Rebel or Ole Miss means, but people here say that a lot.'”
Seeing these posts encouraged Lee to move forward with the idea.
“This helped make my decision of having a campus tour in Korean,” Lee said. “I wanted to inform everybody of the things I know about this campus that I love and the interesting things about this university.”
Following Lee’s idea of offering foreign language tours to students, the Office of International Programs contacted different international student organizations, such as the Indian Student Organization.
Prabhdeep Sandha, a doctoral student in nutrition and hospitality management and a member of the Indian Student Organization, helped lead the campus tour in Hindi.
“This never happened when we came over here, so we were actually excited,” Sandha said.
Because many of the students leading foreign language tours had never led a tour before, they underwent training about two to three days prior to the actual tours. Chikako Takehara, a master’s student in the Department of Modern Languages, was the sole guide of the Japanese tour.
“That was the very first time I led a tour,” he said. “After the sample tour, I felt more prepared.”
Takehara also said the students had many logistical questions, such as how to receive mail, how to pay the bursar and how to load money on their student ID cards.
“Even though they had orientation for international students, they still cannot understand very specific details,” Takehara said.
During the tour led in Hindi, there were approximately five students with their parents, who had traveled from India to participate in the tour.
“It was really good to know that Ole Miss is the safest in the U.S.A. after two or three military schools,” Sushrut Marathe, a master’s student in pharmaceutics and drug delivery, said.
Marathe said the parents had many questions about food because many Indians are vegetarians. He also said the university’s academic rankings and research opportunities attracted Indian students to the University of Mississippi.
Many of the students who received these tours have stayed in contact with their tour guides.
“Most of the students wanted to exchange contact information,” Gauri Shadambikar, a master’s student in pharmaceutics and drug delivery who helped lead the Hindi tour, said. “I think they feel comfortable or safe if they have someone to keep in touch with.”
Many students who led the foreign language tours agreed the service should continue in the future.
“The students had a chance to ask questions and talk to somebody who’s already here,” Takehara said. “That’s one of the best parts. Having the tour in their own language.”