• UCLA International Institute students remind us to "Think Global." (Photo: Olivia Gonzalez/ UCLA.)

  • Students assemble at the institute's Academic Programs orientation on September 22, 2021. (Photo: Olivia Gonzalez/ UCLA.)

  • Vice Provost Cindy Fan addresses International Institute students at the orientation. (Photo: Peggy McInerny/ UCLA.)

  • Academic Programs staff (from left): Sandy Valdivieso, Olivia Gonzalez, Magda Yamamoto and Gaby Solomon-Dorian. (Photo: UCLA.)

  • Students listening to remarks by Vice Provost Fan. (Photo: Peggy McInerny/ UCLA.)

  • A group of students with Vice Provost Cindy Fan. (Photo: Peggy McInerny/ UCLA.)

  • Elias Allen (left) and Yashwini Sodhani of the UCLA Global Development Lab speak to students at the orientation. (Photo: Peggy McInerny/ UCLA.)

  • Students of the International Institute. (Photo: Peggy McInerny/ UCLA.)

International Institute welcomes its students back to campus

Enthusiasm ran high at the outdoor Academic Programs open house on September 22.

By Peggy McInerny, Director of Communications

UCLA International Institute, September 24, 2021 — The International Institute welcomed Bruins back to campus at an Academic Programs orientation on September 22. The mood was celebratory, with students delighted to finally meet one another in person.

“I’m looking forward to a little bit of everything on campus,” said Lanie, a transfer student from Orange County who is planning on applying to the global studies major. “It’s great being back in the swing and around a bunch of life again… and being a part of [the global studies] program as well — it’s so highly sought after.”

Held outside on the plaza directly in front of Bunche Hall, the orientation brought together students from California, other parts of the U.S. and countries around the world to hear remarks by Vice Provost Cindy Fan and academic program staff Sandy Valdivieso, Magda Yamamoto, Olivia Gonzalez and Gaby Solomon-Dorian.

All students — registered majors and minors and those intending to declare one or the other — were able to ask counselors specific questions about the global studies, international development studies (IDS), global health, international migration and international and area studies programs offered by the Institute. But the big draw for students was clearly the chance to meet likeminded peers.

Two global studies majors who recently moved to Los Angeles from South Korea were excited to be on campus and looking forward to their classes. “We’re looking to broaden our perspective. We both study international issues in Korea, but it will be different learning here in the U.S., where there’s a much more diverse culture and the program covers a lot more various aspects of the world,” said Heidi.

Dami, a student from Nigeria who went to high school in the United Kingdom, and Raine, a local from Los Angeles whose education has included schooling in Japan and the U.S., met at the orientation.

“In high school, I always got involved with organizations that engaged with the community and developed projects to help reduce inequalities,” said Sami, who is currently a pre-global studies major but thinking of switching her major.

“I like engaging with other communities and learning about those that are different from mine. I think that's what drew me to the International Institute. The reason I want to switch to international development studies is because I think it has more of a focus on inequalities,” she added.

Raine is presently an art history major, but considering a global studies or IDS major. “I've always been around a lot of different cultures — I'm from LA and I studied abroad for a month last year in Spain. I want to continue learning more about different worldviews and I really appreciate the interdisciplinary aspect of these majors,” she said.

Tony, a global studies minor from Orange County who took courses remotely all last year, said, “I'm very much looking forward to actually getting into research, hopefully with some of the global studies professors I worked with last year.”

Shota, a global studies major with an IDS minor, was getting up at 2:00 and 3:00 a.m. in the morning to attend remote UCLA classes last year from Japan. “I’m just so happy to be back here. I’m looking forward to talking to people and making new friends,” he said.

Yuki, who is both Japanese and Taiwanese, had driven to UCLA from Utah the week before, after a two-month road trip throughout the U.S. He moved from Tokyo to the U.S. after high school and went to community college before becoming a Bruin.

“Last year was so lonely, taking classes ‘over the wires,’” said the global studies major. “Here [on campus], it’s the opposite: meeting people and having conversations.” Referring to his global studies major, Yuki held up his smart phone and said, “I am curious about what is going on in the world, especially right now when we all have one of these.”

A young woman from Japan, also named Yuki, just transferred to UCLA from a community college in the Bay Area. She thoroughly enjoyed the freedom that remote education offered over the past year and a half.

“To be honest, it was pretty fun for me, as I could make my own schedule,” she said. Yuki is looking forward to life as a Bruin. An IDS major, she has wanted to help people enduring misfortune since she first watched a documentary on child soldiers at the age of 8 or 9.

She's already joined the UCLA marching band (she plays trumpet) and recently went to her first football game. “I had no clue what was happening on the field, but it was really fun to watch people get so excited about the game,” she said.

“The marching band is like a family. English is my second language, so sometimes it’s hard to communicate, but they never give up on me,” said Yuki, explaining that her peers in the band are quick to help her with anything she doesn’t understand. Given that kind of support, it’s likely she will soon learn the ins and outs of American football!