International Faculty and Staff Network Builds Community Among Faculty, Staff and Students
Kent State University now has a community for international faculty and staff to connect, share resources and develop long-lasting friendships.
The International Faculty and Staff Network (iFacultyStaff Network) launched on Aug. 4. The organization is dedicated to building a community among international faculty and staff, providing resources to those new in the area and advocating for international faculty and staff, as well as for international students.
Eron Memaj, international student affairs director in Kent State’s Division of Student Affairs and president of the iFacultyStaff Network, developed the idea for the organization from his own experiences studying as an international student in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., as well as working as an international staff member at different universities.
“We have diverse faculty and staff from all around the world at Kent State,” Memaj says. “It’s important that we have a support network, as well as opportunities for us to share our expertise and experiences with each other, as well as current international students.”
Felix Kumah-Abiwu, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Pan-African Studies, and event coordinator for the iFacultyStaff Network, came to the United States as a graduate student and is looking forward to giving back through the iFacultyStaff Network.
“Being a student and now faculty, I have lived on both sides,” Kumah-Abiwu shares. “I will be able to share my experiences being an international student and now a faculty member.”
The iFacultyStaff Network will organize activities and socials to help international faculty and staff connect, opportunities to mentor and assist international students and provide information for those new to the area, such as how to rent a home, where to shop, etc.
“Figuring out day-to-day realities takes the energy away from their experience,” says Murat Dagistan, educational technology designer in Kent State’s College of Education, Health and Human Services and secretary/treasurer of the iFacultyStaff Network. “Achieving some sense of belonging can help, and one of the most productive ways to achieve this is to be involved.”
The iFacultyStaff Network also welcomes domestic faculty and staff with interests in international cultures to join the organization. Carrie Circosta, associate director of international alumni relations in Kent State’s Office of Alumni Relations and the communications coordinator for the iFacultyStaff Network, joined to expand her network.
“We have faculty and staff doing amazing research and work at the university,” Circosta says. “This is a great opportunity to meet them and promote their work to the community.”
The first iFacultyStaff Network social will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 21, at 5:30 p.m. Members will be informed of the location after signing up.
To become a member, view resources and to learn more about the iFacultyStaff Network, visit www.ifacultystaff.org.
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The events of May 4, 1970, placed Kent State University in an international spotlight after a student protest against the Vietnam War and the presence of the Ohio National Guard ended in tragedy with four students losing their lives and nine others being wounded. From a perspective of nearly 50 years, Kent State remembers the tragedy and leads a contemporary discussion and understanding of how the community, nation and world can benefit from understanding the profound impact of the event.