July 18, 2016, Rotogram: 2

MSU Brings the World to Starkville through Its International Students

July 11 — Students from around the world make Mississippi State University the most cosmopolitan institution of higher learning in Mississippi. And, their presence makes Starkville one of the state’s most culturally diverse cities.

Roy Jafari, current president of the MSU International Student Advisory Board, reported that as of 2015, 3.8 percent of the student body hailed from 88 countries. Two-thirds of those 772 students were in graduate school.

Over the past six years, India and China have sent the largest number of students to the university. Jafari, an Industrial and Systems Engineering graduate student from Iran, reported that about 40 students per year have come from his country in the past two years.

The ISAB is a service of the Holmes Cultural Diversity Center which seeks to improve the overall university experience.

Saying “Above all, I love meeting new people,” Jafari explained that the organization focuses on camaraderie and fun. Their favorite hashtag is #ISABforlife.

The group seeks to be the voice of international students and a way to orient them to U.S. culture. It seeks to communicate their needs to the university.

Among the ISAB programs are Chat and Chew, the Domestic and International Student Mixer, and the International Coffee Hour. The chat sessions focus on such things as money management. He gave the example of a session explaining how credit works in America. The mixers seek to make the world a better place through friendships with a chance to get to know others

Of particular interest is the international student job handbook that is being developed. It seeks to explain the advantages of hiring international students. Recruiters have found that the lack of jobs while in school is one of the barriers to getting internationals to attend MSU.

Beyond the IASB, Jafari enjoys promoting the annual International Fiesta where cultures are highlighted through food, music and dance. More than 60 nations are represented as students and townspeople demonstrate traditions and celebrations.

Focusing on his native culture, he explained Nowruz, the Iranian new year that coincides with the first day of spring. The celebration marked its ninth year at MSU in 2016.

“I’ve been here for two years and have missed a lot of things,” said Jafari. “One of the things I have missed the most is my city, Tehran, . . . . an absolutely amazing city. It never sleeps.”

A self-proclaimed “city person,” he enjoys walking through the Iranian capital because the people are friendly. Its metropolitan area is home to nearly 17 million people out of the nation’s 79 million citizens.

A particular attraction is “Tehran’s Roof,” the mountain overlooking the city. Accessible by cable car, it features skiing in the winter.

Jafari said it is a great place for hiking. Darband is the village best situated for treks.

Anticipating questions about Iran, he listed common queries that he gets. A key one is “Do girls have the same chance of going to college and finding jobs as guys?”

To answer that, he noted that his college engineering class was predominantly female. On the other hand, he noted that he does not have a picture of his mother not wearing the traditional hijab scarf. And, he has no pictures of his sister due to her deep religious convictions.

The doctoral student was drawn to MSU when he met his advisor at an international research conference in Turkey. The city boy appreciates Starkville, but longs for a more urban experience. However, he admitted that as student, he is better able to focus here.

Famous Maroon Band and…

Elva Kaye Lance is the director of bands at MSU. The campus boasts seven different musical ensembles. Ed Clynch will introduce her.

Next Week: Future Tech

Roberto Gallardo Estrella, with the Tech Outreach Program of the MSU Extension Service, will speak on the future of technology and its impact. Rodney Foil will introduce him.

For the Record—July 11

Invocation and Pledge:              Greg Bowen

Attendance:                                          59.5%

Present — 89 (39 exempt)

Absent — 94 (21 exempt, 12 honorary)

Meeting Notes

  • President Briar thanked Kyle Jordan for bringing the club a banner from Rotary/One, Paul Harris’ original club in Chicago.
  • Having no guests to introduce on his first day of welcome duty, Vice President Marc welcomed our newest member, Gena Lea Standridge.
  • Members were reminded of the Young Professionals Summit in New Orleans on July 29-31. Members under 40 may register through the District 6820 Web site.
  • On behalf of the vice president and himself, the president thanked Secretary Greg Bowen for the special tankard that graced the head table. He assured the club that the two presiding officers had already “drank the Rotary Kool Aid.”
  • John Forde invited members to play in the annual MSU Department of Communication golf tournament on Sept. 9.
  • A reminder was given that quarterly billing statements had been sent the previous week.

A New Year of Rotary Youth Exchange

Jeff Donald, RYE co-chair, reports that our 2016-17 exchange student arrives on July 28. School starts for the young lady from Italy on Aug. 4 at Starkville High.

Donald has reminded the board that one of our long-term goals is to host a second student annually. To accomplish that, we need to double our host family participation. If you know of potential hosts, or are willing to host a student for a few months, let him know.

Presidential Citation Focus—Membership

The annual Rotary International Presidential Citation requires completing two mandatory activities and meeting expectations in other areas. Among this year’s targets are a net gain of at least two members. Membership Development Chair Cory Lucius can provide you with resources to recruit potential members.


With regrets, the board has accepted the membership resignation of Tommy Prentice.




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