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Monday, August 10, 2020

International Student and Scholar Services welcomes new student adviser

By Zoë Buchli

At the beginning of winter quarter, the International Student and Scholar Services program welcomed Valerie Kimble to their department as International Student Adviser, a position that had been vacant since May of 2018.

Kimble said the main responsibilities of her new position include advising students on immigration issues, cultural and personal adjustments and general academic guidance.

“Much of my advising has to do with personal issues such as looking for employment on campus, extracurricular activities, housing questions, health issues, learning about the area and the like,” Kimble said.

Executive Director of the Institute of Global Engagement Vicki Hamblin said the previous International Student Adviser, Abigail Borchert, had left after five years of working in the ISSS, and so the department had to conduct a search to find a new adviser.

In October, a handful of international students voiced concern over not havinge an adviser to turn to for support.

Hamblin said they followed Western’s official hiring policy for a professional staff position. She added that the position required someone who had experience working with international students, a master’s degree in a related field, professional organization memberships and training in immigration.

Hamblin said while the position was vacant, Bruce acted as the temporary adviser.

“It takes a while to hire professional staff with that kind of expertise,” Hamblin said.

Most students ISSS works with are degree-seeking undergraduate and graduate and short-term exchange students, ISSS Director Richard Bruce said.

Fifth-year Joohyun Kim is an international student at Western from Seoul, South Korea. He said he has worked one-on-one with Kimble for immigration document advising, and to maintain secure status as a student. When he goes back to Seoul for breaks, he said he checks with Kimble to check that his documents for leaving and re-entering the U.S. and Korea are up to date.  

Kimble also plans orientations and activities for international students, she said, including the International Buddies program, a group of American and international students who collaborate on activities together.

Kimble said she is also organizing the Global Gourmets Banquet, a large, international event on campus.

“[Global Gourmets] shares a lot of the diversity of international students through food,” Kimble said.

The presenters and menus are still being finalized, Kimble said, but Kim said he will be helping with the Korean food portion of the program

Kimble said before coming to Western, she had spent seven years as an international adviser at Peninsula College, and had been teaching for 20 years. She said she has quite a bit of international experience; Kimble grew up in a bilingual household in Spain, and spent two years in the Peace Corps in Papua New Guinea, she said.

“I think it’s important to have cultural experience,” Kimble said.

Kimble said tickets for the Global Gourmets Banquet will be available in early February, and the event will be Feb. 27. Tickets will be sold through the Performing Arts Center and are $12 for Western students and $25 for faculty and staff.

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