New international student pre-orientation strives to “Endeavor Together”

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New international student pre-orientation strives to “Endeavor Together”

Endeavor Together immediately integrated international and domestic students through off-campus immersion programs.

Endeavor Together immediately integrated international and domestic students through off-campus immersion programs.

Photos courtesy of Nora Nyi Myint ('22)

Endeavor Together immediately integrated international and domestic students through off-campus immersion programs.

Photos courtesy of Nora Nyi Myint ('22)

Photos courtesy of Nora Nyi Myint ('22)

Endeavor Together immediately integrated international and domestic students through off-campus immersion programs.

Olivia Schmidt, Staff Writer

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Luther debuted a new pre-orientation program, Endeavor Together, opening up Luther’s traditional immersion trips for international students this year. The goal of the program was to include interactions with domestic students in orientation.

Previously, international students attended an orientation made up of seminars on the college experience, logistical preparation for living in the United States, and visits to downtown Decorah. These measures were taken to prepare international students but did not allow them the opportunity to interact with their domestic peers. While international students were on campus in previous years, many first-years from the U.S. participated in the immersion programs off campus, which some did not believe was fair.

“One of the most rewarding things about the Endeavor Together Program is seeing how the students who were strangers in the beginning formed strong bonds with each other. Endeavor Together is one of the key programs which can improve integration into the college.”

 - Ismail Hamid (’19)

“Pre-orientation programs are designed to build community, and if our Luther community begins with separate pre-orientations, then it seems we are setting up a campus culture of separation,” Assistant Director of the Center for Sustainability Communities Emily Neal said. “At Luther, we know that diversity makes us a stronger, more resilient college while at the same time helping each of us to rise to our fullest potential, so a natural step is to make sure that our pre-orientation programs model this.” 

In response, the Endeavor Together program was developed to provide opportunities for students to build self-confidence and self-efficacy while developing community, friendships, and creating situations that built trust, teamwork, and communication with other first-year students, according to Neal.

The responses from students about their experiences at the Boundary Waters and a local 4H camp have been overwhelmingly positive.

“I am proud to say that I had the best week of my life on the endeavor together trip,” Nyi Myint Nora (‘22) declared. “My endeavor together group became like a family to me, a pack, where we knew we got each others’  backs. People who grew up here educated us about the States while we brought our own authentic cultures to the experience. My friends told me about the unseen cultures specific to the Midwest, places to go eat at, fun things to do and we were constantly having a blast while learning so much. I loved my experience.”

Photos courtesy of Nora Nyi Myint (’22)
Endeavor Together immediately integrated international and domestic students through off-campus immersion programs.

As for the program’s future, nothing is currently certain.

“From the reviews we have received, almost everyone had a tremendous experience,” International Student Coordinator Amy Webber said. “We’ve just recently met with a couple people to talk about doing it again, and it will be taken to cabinet, but we don’t have a firm answer yet as to the continuation of the program.” 

Ismail Hamid (‘19), a student leader on the Endeavor Together program thought this program was a positive change for incoming international students.

“One of the most rewarding things about the endeavor together program is seeing how the students who were strangers in the beginning form strong bonds with each other,” Hamid said. “Endeavor together is one of the key programs which can improve integration into the college. While this year it was a pilot, the program needs to continue every year as there has been a marked improvement in how first years interact with American students.”

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