ISSS has been hosting a variety of new programs for international students this semester. For instance, a 14-day drawing challenge was held from March 30 to April 12, intended to help international students cope with feelings of isolation due to “corona blues”. A gift was given to each of the 18 students who successfully completed the challenge by April 16. The daily drawing topics ranged from KAIST-related prompts, such as “KAIST animals” and “favorite place at KAIST”, to more personal ones like “person you miss” and “today I feel...”.
Other programs include “Lovely Floral Monday”, where international students who came to ISSS received a vase of flowers for free, and “Fresh Lunch-Box Walking”, where international students who signed up for the event received a lunch box that included regular, halal, and vegan options. There was also “Green Thumbs Up”, which encouraged international students to grow plants to replace their missing friendships. Students could choose between a DIY grass plant doll, a seedling, or a seed starter pot. The latest event, “Good Luck with Your Exam”, was on April 28; snacks and coffee were provided for international students on a first-come, first-served basis. Besides one-time events, ISSS also prepared events occurring over a certain period of time, such as an online guitar class. Registered students meet every Wednesday on Zoom for eight weeks during this semester. Additionally, some programs like “Fresh Fruity Walking”, in which fruit boxes were provided for free, were conducted before the semester officially started.
Dr. Soohyun Kim, the International Student Advisor of ISSS, said that their programs were intended to help international students adjust to life in KAIST better. Usually, they focus on cultural programs, such as taekwondo, Korean painting, and yoga classes. However, significant changes were made this semester because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which prevents KAISTians from having much social contact with one another. Instead, the new programs aimed to promote individual activities and sharing through social media. There is also a plan to conduct an exhibition of the drawings from the 14-day drawing challenge. Dr. Kim also said that ISSS has started planning for new programs in the near future, such as sports equipment lending and another flower distribution event.
“I hope that every international student enjoys the activities from ISSS, since we put a lot of effort into coming up with the ideas,” Dr. Kim said. She also hopes that instead of blaming someone or complaining, students would be able to take small positive steps toward making KAIST a happier place for everyone, together.