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Serving Others While Pursuing an Education at Georgetown University

International ambassador student Jennifer Chen and a friend

Jennifer Chen enjoys being a participant of the International Ambassadors Program at Georgetown University. She is pursuing a degree in international politics.

Traveling and living in different countries is nothing new to Jennifer Chen. Jennifer is from Taiwan and once she finished high school she packed her bags and headed to Washington, DC to begin her college studies at Georgetown University.

"I choose Georgetown mainly because of my interest in international politics, my academic experiences studying at international schools and also a bilingual school in Tawain kind of prepared me for this path to go to the United States to study. When I was little I traveled around to Rome and Bangkok and that exposed me to international cultures and that got me into international affairs so Georgetown was an ideal place to study," she says.

"Also Washington, DC is a good place for me to further pursue my academic interests other than the campus because DC is a place where they offer a lot of internship opportunities around the area that suit my major."

When it comes to the international community at Georgetown University, there are many resources and services to assist both international students, faculty and researchers. One program headed up under the office of international programs is the International Ambassadors Program. Jennifer tells us more about the program. "The International Ambassadors Program at Georgetown is hosted by the office of international programs. It's separated into two parts, one is the international pre-orientation, thats the IPO and that's for undergraduate and exchange students and then there's the international graduate orientation, the IGO and that's for the graduate students.

"The orientation itself is a three day orientation program for the students to come and it involves several activities mainly including information sessions for the students to know about the area, banking, cell phone and academics and it also includes fun activities where we take them to Target and introduce them to the area or just take them to general tourist areas," she says.

"As an ambassador I work mainly for the IPO with the undergraduate students. Starting in summer is when we receive assignments for who our students are and we contact them and answer any questions that they might have about coming to the United States and about coming to Georgetown," she says.

Georgetown University IPO Ambassadors
Georgetown University IPO Ambassadors

"Then when they arrive here in the fall we participate in the orientation program with them and lead them through the activities. There are about fifteen to seventeen ambassadors for the IPO and each take on about ten to twelve students."

All freshman are required to particiapte in the program. Jennifer says she enjoyed the program and it helped with her transition into university life. "I actually found it really beneficial when I first came even though my ambassador wasn't particularly helpful in helping me transition after I got here," she says. The program itself allowed me to meet a lot of students with similar backgrounds and I was able to connect with them fast and also the information sessions particularly that taught me about visas, cell phones and banking really gave me the information and resources to help me get through and after my freshman year I decided to apply to become an ambassador during my sophomore year and I have been one since then."

As much as the university takes pride in its international community, Jennifer personally involves herself with spreading some of her Taiwanese culture to students from the United States as well as other foreign countries. "I'm also involved in a club it's called the Taiwanese American Student Association. It's TASA for short. It was founded just three years ago by two Taiwanese students who were interested in spreading Taiwanese culture on the Georgetown campus and I was co-president of TASA last year."

"What the club does is that we mainly host political, educational and social activities to raise Taiwanese awareness for example last year we hosted a speaker event with three professionals who specialize in China U-S Taiwan relations. We also hosted some cultural activities where we provided free Taiwanese authentic cuisine to the students on campus. One of our most popular drinks is called bubble tea. Its tapioca bubbles made out of tapioca and we put them in the tea and we gave them to the students for them to have an opportunity to taste Taiwanese food."

In the September, Jennifer will be entering her senior and final year at Georgetown University. She says the influence Georgetown has provided her goes beyond academics. "I think one major influcence that Georgetown has given to me is that they have a thing called 'men and women for others' in addition to the academic experiences that the school has provided me it also taught me a lot about serving others other than just academics," she says. "So even though I took classes in international development the people around me and my professors influenced me to really learn how to give those in need using the resources I have and that really encourage me to pursue my interest in international development."

"So after I graduate I was thinking about working at a non-profit organization that relates to international development helping children in developing countries mainly in Southeast Asia and Latin America, but I have interests in going to graduate school but not immediately after my undergraduate studies."