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International R/O Boasts Many Events

By Stacey E. Blau
Opinion Editor

Most freshmen arrive today for Residence and Orientation Week, but over 80 students from countries around the world have been getting their introduction to MIT since the start of International R/O at the beginning of the week.

International students, representing about 50 countries, arrived late last week and over the weekend to settle in and participate in introductory events starting Monday. These events included a banking presentation by U.S. Trust and a welcoming lunch with faculty members.

International students have gotten a taste of MIT and local life through tours of MIT, jaunts off campus to explore Cambridge and Boston restaurants, and social events like Monday's International Night '97 and last night's Chocolicious Ice Cream Mixer.

Events help acclimate students

International students comprise only about eight percent of incoming freshmen. "It's easier to meet people when you're in a group of 80 rather than a group of 1,000," said Joanna Maldonado-Saldiva '00, an International R/O coordinator.

The point of International R/O is "to give students a sense of security" before real R/O and its concomitant pressures begin, she said.

Some of the new international freshmen experience culture shock and homesickness when they get to MIT, said Simon Tisminezky '00, another International R/O coordinator. The activities at International R/O "help them ease into American society."

The new students also get an introduction to the new country they will be living in for the next four years, learning things that "American students don't have to deal with," Tisminezky said.

Much of the focus of International R/O activities is social, since one of the main purposes the program is "to create a bond among international freshmen each year," Maldonado-Saldiva said.

Rush may get complicated and hectic, but international students still will have "a first impression of a really close group," she said.

"I didn't think there were so many activities for international students," said Antonio Copete '01, who is from Colombia. "I thought when I got here that we'd just be waiting until Thursday for the other students to arrive."

But when Monday began, so did a flurry of activities. "You never got bored," Copete said. "As soon as we ended one activity, we began another," he said. "They made us feel special."

"All the students have been really impressed this year," said R/O Logistics Manager Wesley T. Chan '00. "The International R/O Committee has done a wonderful job showing the incoming international freshmen what MIT is about."