An important characteristic of South Ural State University is its multinational student body – more than 2500 students study here from 52 countries around the world. All of them are united by the SUSU Association of International Students. This year, the AIS will celebrate its first major anniversary – 5 years.
The Association of International Students was founded on December 23rd, 2013. The main tasks of the AIS include helping international students adapt, solve issues related to study, living, or leisure, and to introduce them to Russian culture. Work by the AIS supports the development of intercultural communication and personal growth in each student. President of the association, Uvindu Wijeweera, SUSU student from Sri Lanka, talked about the main goals of the AIS:
“Representatives of different cultures and religions study at SUSU. The association helps create relationships between us. This is a good opportunity to understand others. We have a motto: ‘Variety is our strength, wealth, and beauty!’. Participating in the AIS can play an important role in international students’ future professional activities. By becoming a politician, consulate representative, or by taking on any other role, SUSU international students will understand people, the cultures of other countries, and communicate successfully. A specialist like that will be successful and respected everywhere.”
Results of the work of the AIS
The Association of International Students organises a number of national holidays, such as Navruz, Arab Culture Day, Chinese New Year, European and African Culture Day, and more. In 2018, the largest of these events was the Arab Culture Day, which was held as part of the Vmeste international festival with the participation of distinguished guests: the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Sudan in the Russian Federation, Nadir Yousif El-Tayeb Babiker and Advisor to the Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Osana El-Sayed Mahmoud Elservi, and in 2017, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Iraq in Russia, His Excellency Haidar Mansour Hadi was the distinguished guest.
International students actively participate in sports events. In 2016, they took part in the International Festival of Sport, which includes competitions in chess, darts, flatball, fun games, and tug of war. In 2018, they took second place in the VIII Annual City Tournament in Mini-Football among National Youth Teams and third place in the Russian Sports Olympiad among International Students of Russian universities in rock climbing and tennis.
The Association of International Students is an actively developing student organization. On February 10th 2018, a team of AIS students took part in the Russian Contest for the Best Organisation of Student Government Bodies of Higher Education Institutions (Rostov-on-Don) and took second place in the category “Best system of working with international students and international student partnership.”
Since May 2018, the student organisation has broadened its scope of interests and became the Association of International Students of the South Ural Region. A tutoring programme was launched – the tutors are students of the university who help international students in their first stages of adaptation. On SUSU’s 75th anniversary, the SUSU Association of International Graduates was opened. It was created to support contact with the university and is a space for exchanging experiences and information and supports the realisation of professional and creative potential of its participants.
In honour of the university’s anniversary, the AIS prepared unique presents: a book of recipes which gathers SUSU international students’ favourite dishes, and an alphabet they created by hand for international students, which was presented to teachers of the Institute of Linguistics and International Communications for the Sigma academic building.
Plans of the Association of International Students
The SUSU AIS is continuing to develop in many areas, including in sports. Its plans in the coming year include holding tournaments in billiards, mini-football, and basketball. For the first time, competitions will be held in cricket and volleyball. The international students are hoping to organise their own sports festival.
SUSU international students, as AIS president Uwindu Wijeweera admits, are trying to make a contribution to the development of the university’s international partnerships. At this time, they are working on translating important information about the university in to 25 languages so that it can be posted online so that as many people as possible from other countries can learn about the university’s advantages. The Association of International Students is planning on organising a cultural programme for Chelyabinsk schools that partner with SUSU in occupational guidance events. Representatives of the AIS will introduce the students to traditions of different peoples, their culture, and also demonstrate the possibilities of international communication in a multinational university.
As per tradition, national holidays will be held – Chinese New Year, Navruz, Sri-Lankan New Year, Eurasian Culture Day, a tea ceremony, African Culture Day, and, for the first time, a South Asian Culture Festival. The Association of International Students has also put forth the idea of holding a “Mister and Miss AIS”.
But the biggest idea from the SUSU AIS is the idea of holding a Ural Festival for International Students, which will unite all of the students in the Ural Federal District (UFD) who have come from other countries.
“In the Ural region there are a large number of international students from the CIS, China, and Arab, Asian, and African countries. We are planning on holding a festival together with other associations of international students from neighbouring regions. We are suggesting that we choose a few days. On the first day, there will be a round table about issues of international students and specialists who are studying and working in the Ural region. We might invite experts to hold lectures and master classes. We also want to organise a meeting between Russian as a Foreign Language teachers to discuss current issues and new methodologies of teaching. On the second day, we may hold sport events and games, where teams from different UFD cities will compete. On the third day, we are planning a cultural festival, where we will show the national traditions of different countries and present the activities of AIS from different regions. This idea has already been discussed with a few AIS presidents from the Ural Federal District, and they supported it,” said the president of the SUSU Association of International Students.
Celebration of the Association’s Five-Year Anniversary
The SUSU AIS has organised a party especially for those students who can’t go home for New Year. International students presented a concert in which they performed songs and dances in national costumes. A lottery was also held, in which items with the SUSU logo were given away.
On December 24th, the Association of International Students invites everyone to the official celebration of the AIS’ fifth anniversary. International students have prepared a programme of events including special performances, tastings of national dishes from different countries, and a large celebratory cake. The event will be held at 13:00 in room 913 of the main building.