2017 has been an amazing year for International Oasis (IO), its volunteers and most importantly, the international students who received our services. I am amazed to see how fast International Oasis has grown over the last two years to become the passion of many of the international students that attend Oakland University as well as the volunteers that work with these students. From our humble beginning of just helping a handful of students in 2015 we have grown to be a true “Oasis” for over 300 students in 2017.
We have truly become the home away from home for many students as we picked them up from airport, helped them find apartments and cars, provided them with free furniture, helped them practice their English language skills, took them to social events, invited them to our homes for dinners and game nights, and welcomed them with open arms. Many of these students became best friends with our volunteers. My heart beats with fulfillment when I get messages from students who have returned to their countries (after completing their studies) reminding me how IO has impacted their lives and how we are still inspiring them.
Some of our key accomplishments in 2017 include free furniture delivery, delivery of welcome boxes, assistance with car purchases and repair, pairing of students with orientation assistance volunteers and conversation partners, and the organization of at least one major and multiple mini social events every month which engaged over 300 international students and more than 200 volunteers throughout the year.
We could not have accomplished any of these activities without the sacrificial serving and giving of our volunteers. Our partnership with Oakland University’s International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) as well as a few local churches and organizations made it easier for the students to tap into many resources and services.
While our primary interactions are with the international students at Oakland University, our mission includes touching many lives around the globe. One of our main focuses in 2018 will be to empower the international students at OU through leadership training sessions as well as by engaging them in practical ways to make a difference in the lives of less fortunate people around them. I encourage all of our volunteers to continue to be an active part of operations in 2018.
While 2017 presented us with many challenges that taught us to become more efficient we look forward to new opportunities in 2018 to better serve the students. With the continued support of our volunteers, ISSO, local churches and other organizations, I am confident that we will continue to touch many lives around the world from right here in Rochester, Michigan.
Once again, thank you for partnering with us in shaping a new generation of world leaders. I am looking forward to a brighter new year and the many ways to continue to serve the international students at Oakland University.
To provide physical, emotional, and spiritual support to international students in order to inspire and equip them to meet the needs of the global poor.
One does not have to look too far to see major issues affecting individuals and people groups all over the world. The threats of violence, poverty, pollution, disease, and food and water shortage are real and ever present.
However, we at International Oasis desire to see a refreshed world, one where caring people dream and implement creative solutions that serve the world's most vulnerable citizens. We believe international students, with their brilliant minds, cultural knowledge, and persevering spirit, are the key to refreshing the world.
What makes a great friend? The answer to this question is what influences everything we do to serve international students, and what we try to inspire in them. We believe there are six universal qualities that make a great friend:
Our strategy starts with meeting immediate needs of international students, especially as they first arrive in the United States.
In 2017, over 100 students received free furniture delivered right to their door from our furniture coordination team in 90 separate deliveries. International Oasis received 101 donations of free furniture from individuals and businesses in our community.
International Oasis helped 9 students without transportation make the trip to and from the airport. Our volunteer mechanic also helped 5 people select and purchase quality used cars, as well as providing inexpensive repairs for 12 students.
International Oasis trained 100 volunteers in the local community throughout summer 2017 for our first Orientation Assistance Program. These volunteers helped warmly welcome 73 incoming students at their apartments and homes with boxes of kitchen supplies and local tours.
Creating fun, regular opportunities for international students and volunteers is the key building block to building lasting friendships.
Through 9 large-scale events and 11 small gatherings,International Oasis connected with over 200 students. Events ranging from day trips to Detroit all the way to Thanksgiving gatherings set the stage for new American friendships and close, intentional connections.
This year we matched 66 students to conversation partners. This major jump from the previous year ensures that students are immersed in American culture while getting to share their heritage with others in a meaningful and beneficial way.
The CAIR (Creating American International Relationship) Program provides international students with a committed, one-on-one individual or family who assists them throughout their time in the United States. International Oasis helped over 20 people become CAIR volunteers.
Our desire is to see international students become inspired and equipped to affect change for marginalized and oppressed people all over the world.
In the last year, student giving has increased, with 40 students giving over $3,500 in support of the International Oasis vision. Through their gifts, we are training them to be thoughtful and intentional in their giving.
Student leadership has also increased among those we serve, with over 35 students aiding in our furniture moving program. Many more served at our social events and fall and winter orientations as new student ambassadors.
In 2017 we also laid the groundwork for World Changers Leadership Development Program. Through the program, students will be trained to identify their people, passion, and future pursuits of meeting the needs of the global poor.
International Oasis is led by a dedicated group of staff and volunteers.
James immigrated from India in the 1990s and is now an executive with Fiat Chrysler. He co-founded International Oasis and helps direct its vision.
A former engineer and educator, Janine has helped International Oasis launch and establish several of its outreach initiatives to new students.
A former international student and vice president of Asahi-Kasei Plastics, Ramesh provides valuable insight into how to best help international students.
A licensed counselor, Selina ensures International Oasis is meeting the emotional needs of students during their stay.
Cam helped to found International Oasis in 2014. An Oakland alum, he oversees all staff, operations, and strategic planning.
Alexa joined the team in 2016. She specializes in connecting international students into meaningful friendships with American volunteers.
A senior at Oakland University, Kyle has delivered furniture to over 100 international students while managing all inventory and donations.
Brian oversees all special events, including ideation organization, volunteer management, student transportation, and execution. He is a junior at Oakland University.
Justin’s friendship with Cam Underdown sparked the start of International Oasis. A current international students, Justin helps others understand what International Oasis offers.
Beth has been working with international students at Oakland University since 2010, helping establish partnerships with community organizations and new volunteers.
A certified mechanic and Oakland University student, Phill helps international students purchase quality used vehicles while offering inexpensive repairs.
International Oasis received more gifts and met more student needs in 2017, reflecting significant year over year growth.
Contributions increased almost three times, from $12,255 in 2016 to $35,790 in 2017. There was a significant uptick in gifts from other non-profits and organizations, as well as over $3,500 in student gifts.
With a growing reach to students, International Oasis spent significantly more to provide support to international students in 2017. Student services, our largest expense, grew dramatically because of increased furniture delivery and donations, as well as the launch of our Orientation Assistance Program. Despite our growth, we were able to keep administrative, event, and marketing costs similar to last year thanks to organizations who hosted our large events at no cost and volunteers who gave their time and expertise. We are proud to invest almost all our growth in contributions into providing support to students.