More than 3,500 international students attend Virginia Tech, and the university’s diverse population has become an intrinsic component of the campus community. However, the transition to a new country and culture —and to college —is taxing on many international students, and they can feel lonely, lost, or misunderstood.

The Cranwell International Center established the Global Ambassador program to ease that transition. Global ambassadors are students charged with welcoming new international students to the Virginia Tech community and continuing meaningful interactions with students and the community throughout the academic year. 

Applications for 2016-17 Global Ambassadors can be found on GobblerConnect. The application, along with a reference form, is due on Monday, Nov. 9.

Hanna Wiberg of Stockholm, Sweden, a junior double-majoring in management and communications, became part of the program because of the global ambassador who initially welcomed her to Virginia Tech.

“When I came to Virginia Tech, there was this one global ambassador who helped me find my way my first time at D2 [inside Dietrick Hall],” said Wiberg. “It’s a small thing, but in that moment I was hugely relieved to have someone personally walk me around and explain everything to me. And this impression stayed with me.”

Cranwell International Center encourages all types of students to apply to be global ambassadors, including returning study abroad students, students who have a strong interest in learning about the world, and currently enrolled international students.

“We make up the most diverse group I have ever had the honor of being part of, with representatives from China, India, Japan, Indonesia, America, Trinidad, Egypt, the list goes on,” said Wiberg. “We are from different majors, different years, undergraduates, graduates, doctorate students, introverts, extroverts, and members of different clubs. Through the training every spring, we share our own backgrounds and learn from each other about acceptance and the importance of diversity.”

Hailey Morris of Annapolis, Maryland, a senior double-majoring in international studies and Spanish, said the program has provided her with an enhanced worldview.

“My fellow global ambassadors and I strive to help them maintain their culture while adjusting to the culture here,” said Morris. “Being a domestic student, I grew up in the American culture and understand the social and cultural norms. I took a step back and realized that my way and my culture’s way of doing things is not the only way of doing things. There are so many cultures in the world, and this program gave me an unimaginable appreciation for the world and the people in it.

“I grew as a person, and, for the first time in my life, felt like I was making a difference. Being a global ambassador reminded me of what it means to be a Hokie.”

Written by Holly Paulette.