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IPO, SLSO to Launch Free Legal Help Sessions

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Can I drive in the United States? How do I get my security deposit back? Does this email seem fishy? How can I remain in the United States after my studies are completed? These questions—and many more— are on the table for international students when the International Programs Office (IPO) and Student Legal Services Office (SLSO) launch the “Ask an Attorney” drop-in sessions this semester. 

The sessions will be held January 30, February 12, March 12, April 29, and May 6, 2020 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. in IPO Room 310, and are free and open to all fee-paying international students. Participants are invited to drop in for a quick one-on-one legal consultation, with an option to complete an intake form for an in-depth appointment at SLSO in the future. All sessions are 100 % confidential.

SLSO Director Atty. Bernadette Stark is facilitating the sessions.  “If any student has an issue that they’re unsure about—it could be a side note, a question, or a nagging concern—they should always talk to an attorney to make sure that the issue won’t affect their status in the country (even if the issue doesn’t seem to have anything to do with their student visa),” Stark says. “Students don’t leave their rights at the border just because they’re international students.  They’re able to avail themselves of the civil justice system and stand up for their rights, just as domestic students can – and our office can help.”

Associate Director for International Student and Scholar Success Pamela Dutta helped coordinate the sessions with SLSO. “These sessions are providing an accessible and convenient space for international students to get their legal concerns or questions answered quickly,” she says. “Immigration issues are continuously complicated, and with our growing international student population here at UMass Amherst, we wanted to make sure access for free legal help was there.”

For more information, please contact Pamela Dutta

New ISS website coming soon (January 2020)

Friday, January 10, 2020

All old ISS webpages should redirect you to our new ISS homepage. Please email Beryl Tang if any redirects do not work properly.

If you have bookmarked old ISS webpages, please update your favorites.

Important Immigration Tips for Winter Break

Monday, December 9, 2019

As we get closer to the end of the 2019 fall semester, the International Programs Office (IPO) would like to remind international students of the following critical points regarding immigration status:

1)     Travel Signature on your I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1) forms

Your travel signatures are valid for one year from the last signature date. If you, or any F-2 or J-2 dependents will be travelling internationally this winter, please be sure to obtain an updated travel signature from the IPO. Travel signatures will take a minimum of 24-hours so please do not leave this until the last minute. Plan ahead!

2)     Be sure to always carry original documents with you when you travel (original I-20 or DS-2019 forms), and double check the expiration date on your F-1 or J-1 visa. Often your visa expiration date will not always match your I-20 or DS-2019 ending date. Your I-20 or DS-2019 ending date must remain valid at all times. Your visa stamp in your passport only needs to be valid for international travel. Please contact the IPO if you are unsure about any of these points.

3)     If you will be completing your academic studies at the end of fall semester (or during winter session), or will be doing an authorized internship, OPT and CPT application information can be found on our employment authorization site.

4)     Winter IPO in-person advising is by appointment only effective December 20, 2019. Please call 413-545-2710 for appointment information and winter hours.

5)     Finally, if you will be staying in the Amherst area this winter, check out the Living at UMass 365 website for a detailed listing of campus services and support during the winter months.

On behalf of the entire International Programs Office, we wish you the best of luck in during finals, and happy holidays and New Year!


2019 IPO Holiday Hours

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Holiday hours at the International Programs Office (IPO) begin December 20:

  • Friday, December 20: 8:30 a.m.—4:30 p.m.
  • Monday, December 23: 8:30 a.m.—4:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, December 24: 8:30 a.m.—4:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, December 25: Closed
  • Thursday, December 26: 8:30 a.m.—4:30 p.m.
  • Friday, December 27: 8:30 a.m.—4:30 p.m.
  • Monday, December 30: Closed
  • Tuesday, December 31: Closed
  • Wednesday, January 1: Closed
  • Thursday, January 2: 8:30 a.m.—4:30 p.m.
  • Friday, January 3: 8:30 a.m.—4:30 p.m.

On December 26 & 27 staff are available to assist you, but the main door will be locked for security purposes. Please call 413-545-2710 for assistance. 

International students and scholars with urgent I-20 or DS-2019 travel signature issues can address them here.

Please note: an I-20 or DS-2019 request is not an emergency—please do not contact the UMass Amherst Police Department. 

  • Dec 19:    International Student and Scholar walk-in advising ends 
  • Jan 2:       IPO will resume regular office hours
  • Jan 21:     International Student and Scholar walk-in advising will resume

Email your advisor to schedule an appointment during wintersession.

UMass Visiting Scholar Muhammad Ali Nawaz, PhD

Snow Leopard Conservation Through Coexistence

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Visiting scholar Muhammad Ali Nawaz, PhD, came to UMass Amherst hoping to solve an ecological riddle: how to balance the needs of endangered species with those of a burgeoning human populace. A Pakistani citizen, Nawaz is a world leader in snow leopard research and preservation. He works primarily in the Himalayas, where overpopulation has forced local farmers into the leopards’ territory, leaving livestock vulnerable to the apex predator. The farmers, eager to protect their livelihood, responded by hunting the cats, contributing to a steep decline in population that nearly reached extinction. 

The declining numbers of snow leopards can only mean bad things for an ecosystem, Nawaz says. “Snow leopards, besides being a top predator, have significant linkages with local people and their culture. If the snow leopard is gone, it means the ecosystem has a problem—it will become unstable.” Factoring in the deterioration of natural landscapes due to overpopulation and unsustainable pressure on natural resources, the need to preserve snow leopards becomes even more dire.

Nawaz cites Yellowstone Park’s struggles with wolf populations as precedence for the perils of removing a top predator. In the twentieth century, wolves were hunted to extinction in the park, causing long-lasting damage still being documented today. The elk population in Yellowstone thrived without the wolves actively preying on them, resulting in a dwindling landscape from overfeeding by the elk. This in turn caused a decline in beaver population, who saw their food sources primarily eaten by the swelling elk populace. Wolves were eventually reintroduced in the 1990s, helping to begin recovery for the park ecosystem. 

Without proper protection, Nawaz says snow leopards could be extinct within 50 years. “To declare something as ‘protected’ does not work for a long time,” he says. “The solution is to understand the root cause of issues between people and wildlife. We have been working on perception building, so the people see snow leopards as beneficial for them.” 

Working with the Snow Leopard Trust, Nawaz has introduced several initiatives to address the problem: better protection for livestock housing, a community fund for lost livestock, and educating locals on the importance of snow leopards. “In ten years, the people who wanted to kill and eliminate the snow leopard from the area became proud of it, and want to increase its population,” he says.

Nawaz holds a PhD from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, and has received several awards for his work, including the Whitley Fund for Nature’s Whitely Award. He hopes to launch a training forum for wildlife management and protection at UMass Amherst, influencing future generations to preserve these precious species. “Snow leopards are an intelligent, adaptable species,” he says. “Though threats to their habitats in Asia are aggregating, I am hopeful for their future in view of increasing acceptance in local people and vigilance in governments of south and central Asian countries to adopt the right policies.” 

Support The International Programs Office

UMass Amherst Student Mahdiar Edraki on campus.

Politics Hits Close to Home, When Home Is Far Away

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Mahdiar Edraki ’19 may never forget his 2017 winter break. At home in Dubai, he was preparing to return to UMass Amherst to continue his undergraduate studies in mechanical engineering. He had just finished saying tearful goodbyes to his friends when he received word that due to a recently enacted travel ban, he wouldn’t be able to return to campus. 

President Trump had recently signed legislation forbidding entry to the United States for residents of several Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, where Edraki lived until he was seven years old. Although he had been in Dubai for most of his life, it made no difference; as far as the United States was concerned, he was an Iranian citizen. 

Edraki was stuck, and worried about the future of his academic studies and career. “I take my education seriously. I was already thinking about my post-graduation plans, and in a split second, the president took all of that away from me,” he says. “It made me realize how uncertain things are in my life. I thought of all the blessings I had in my life, and how they could be taken away with basically a snap. It made me appreciate my opportunities more.” 

Edraki contacted the International Programs Office (IPO)’s Director of International Student and Scholars Services Kenneth Reade. Before he knew it, an email tree addressing his situation began to grow. Director of Education Abroad Advising and Student Success Carol Lebold and professors in the engineering department worked with IPO advisors to formulate a plan to ensure that Edraki’s education continued uninterrupted.  

Very quickly a solution was reached. With IPO’s assistance, Edraki would study abroad at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. It would be easier to get a visa to go there, and the semester started in February, allowing more time to prepare. He was able to enroll in general education courses, and a dynamics course crucial to his major.  

After lobbying the U.S. embassy for months, and a legal challenge to Trump’s travel ban in the U.S., Edraki was assured he could enter the United States legally. He returned to UMass Amherst the following semester, inspired to repay the university for the help. In gratitude, he immediately began training to be a resident assistant in the dorms. “Everyone wanted to make sure I succeeded and did well,” he says. “It made me feel like I’m part of this community.” 

Edraki and was honored for his “exemplary achievement, initiative and leadership” as one of the university’s 21st Century Leaders when he graduated from UMass Amherst this spring. He will pursue his doctorate in mechanical engineering at Northeastern University in fall 2019.  

Support The International Programs Office

Kalpen Trivedi, associate provost and director of the International Programs Office at the University of Massachusetts Amherst

UMass Director of International Programs Office Awarded Presidential Fellowship

Friday, August 23, 2019

Kalpen Trivedi, associate provost and director of the International Programs Office at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been awarded a Presidential Fellowship by the Association of International Education Administration (AIEA).

The fellows program provides mentorship for new senior international officers (SIOs), necessarily limited in number and of high prestige. Five fellows are matched with an experienced SIO, who will serve as mentor throughout the school year. Over the last 10 years, the fellows program has provided mentorship for over 40 new SIOs in international higher education.

“Trivedi’s leadership of International Programs has been exceptional, and I am not surprised that the AIEA chose him for this honor,” said John McCarthy, provost and senior vice chancellor of Academic Affairs.

Trivedi has been with the International Programs Office for over six years, and three years in his current role, where he leads campus strategy and initiatives for comprehensive international engagement. Trivedi is a regular contributor and presenter in various international forums and has published on current topics in international higher education. 

He serves on the International Education Leadership Knowledge Community as symposium and training lead for NAFSA: Association of International Educators, as well as being a member of the NAFSA National Trainer Corps. Trivedi is recent vice-chair and current steering committee member of the U.S. Department of State’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) Academia Working Group. He also serves on other international education organization boards.

Trivedi was educated in India and the United Kingdom and holds degrees from Gujarat University, Oxford University (Radhakrishnan Scholar) and Cambridge University (Cambridge Commonwealth Trust Scholar). He has a doctorate in Medieval Literature from the University of Manchester (University Research Scholar) and has held a Mellon Research Fellowship at the Huntington Library in San Marino, Calif.

Trivedi joins presidential Fellows from Chicago State University, Howard University, the University of Tennessee Knoxville and Lincoln College.

Story via UMass Amherst News & Media Relations

Lewis Mchenga Highlighted in Boston Globe

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Boston Globe recently highlighted the inspiring journey of international student Nellipher Lewis Mchenga PhD ’19 in their piece on last week’s commencement ceremonies:

When she was 4 years old, Lewis Mchenga was hospitalized for measles and severe malnutrition. And two of her 10 siblings died of malaria in early childhood.

Those experiences inspired her to enter nursing, and “to reach out to many people and help them have healthy lives,” Lewis Mchenga said in a phone interview Thursday.

Lewis Mchenga graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Malawi Kamuzu College of Nursing, and went to work as a midwife and nurse.

In 2013, Lewis Mchenga helped establish YouthLine, a non-profit that provides food, clothing, and education assistance to high school and college students in Malawi. Since it began, she said, the organization has helped more than 100 students.

Full story on the Boston Globe website.

UMass Amherst student Lucas La Guardia prepares for a show

La Guardia Awarded Barbara Burn Scholarship

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Lucas La Guardia ’19  is the 2019 Barbara B. Burn Memorial Scholarship recipient. 

The $1,000 scholarship was established in memory of International Programs Office founder Dr. Barbara Burn, who devoted her career to making international education accessible for any student. It is available to any currently enrolled international sophomore, junior, or senior UMass Amherst undergraduate.

La Guardia, a Brazilian native, is majoring in theater at UMass Amherst. “When I heard about the memorial scholarship, I could not help but feel touched by it. I deeply believe that international education must be available to everyone,” he says. “The only way to create a country in which the values of inclusiveness and democracy are centerstage is by inviting people of different backgrounds to come together.”

After graduating this Fall, La Guardia intends to pursue acting full-time. “The future is acting. It’s a great time for film and television,” he says. “It’s very different than it used to be—people are enjoying a lot of movies that previously wouldn’t have been made.”

La Guardia will present his play, Gira! in the Fine Arts Center on April 26 at 8:30 p.m., and April 27 at 7:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Free tickets are available ahead of the performance

IPO will be raising money for scholarships like this one during this year's #UMassGives April 29 and 30, including a power hour on April 30 from 2-3 p.m. 

UMassGives and International Programs Office Logo

Support IPO During UMassGives

Thursday, April 25, 2019

The International Programs Office (IPO) will be raising money for scholarships during this year’s #UMassGives campaign April 29- 30, 2019. IPO facilitates a global education network for UMass Amherst, sending domestic students abroad and bringing international students’ and scholars’ talents and expertise to campus. A donation to our scholarship fund helps deserving students and scholars realize their goal of participating in a global academic community.

Please support us with a tax-deductible donation on April 30, 2019 from  2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.(Eastern Standard Time) during our #UMassGives power hour.

Badges from the 2019 International Student Graduation

Graduating International Students Honored at 6th Annual Reception

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The UMass Amherst community celebrated more than 200 graduating international students at the 6th Annual International Graduation Reception on April 22.

The event, MC’d by Achintya Kumar ’21, featured speeches by Director of International Students and Scholar Services Kenneth Reade and student speaker Adnan Mohammed ’19, with performances by Rongbing Shen ’21, the UMass Irish Dance Group, and closing remarks by Kavita Ilango ’19.

The campus community was represented by Associate Provost for International Programs Kalpen Trivedi; Assistant Vice Chancellor of Advocacy Inclusion, and Support Programs Shelly Perdomo; Director of the Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate Program/Senior Lecturer, Department of Sociology, C.N. Le; Residential Education Community Coordinator Abed Jaradat, and Director of Residence Education Jean MacKimmie.

The students will join more than 5,500 other graduates at this year’s UMass Amherst Commencement May 10 at McGuirk Alumni Stadium.


Important Immigration Tips for the Summer

Monday, April 22, 2019

As we get closer to the end of the 2019 spring semester, the International Programs Office (IPO) would like to remind international students of the following critical points regarding immigration status:

1)     Travel Signature on your I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1) forms

Your travel signatures are valid for one year from the last signature date. If you, or any F-2 or J-2 dependents will be travelling internationally this summer, please be sure to obtain an updated travel signature from the IPO. Travel signatures will take a minimum of 24-hours so please do not leave this until the last minute. Plan ahead!

2)     Be sure to always carry original documents with you when you travel (original I-20 or DS-2019 forms), and double check the expiration date on your F-1 or J-1 visa. Often your visa expiration date will not always match your I-20 or DS-2019 ending date. Your I-20 or DS-2019 ending date must remain valid at all times. Your visa stamp in your passport only needs to be valid for international travel. Please contact the IPO if you are unsure about any of these points.

3)     If you will be completing your academic studies at the end of spring semester (or in the summer), or will be doing an authorized internship, OPT and CPT application information can be found on our employment authorization site.

4)     Summer IPO in-person advising is by appointment only. Please call 413-545-2710 for appointment information and summer hours.

5)     Finally, if you will be staying in the Amherst area this summer, check out the Living at UMass 365 website for a detailed listing of campus services and support during the summer months.

On behalf of the entire International Programs Office, we wish you the best of luck in these final few weeks of the semester, and congratulations to graduating seniors!

International Student Orientation Orientation Leaders in 2018

Applications Now Open for 2019 Orientation Leaders

Monday, April 1, 2019

The International Programs Office (IPO) is now accepting applications for 2019 International Student Orientation (ISO) leaders. Orientation takes place from August 27-30, 2019.

Undergraduate, graduate, domestic, and international students interested in earning strong work experience and engaging with international community are encouraged to apply.

Interested parties should submit the ISO orientation leader application and their resume to Pamela Dutta by Friday, April 12, 2019.

UMass Amherst Again Named Top Producer of Fulbright Awards

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

For the fourth time in five years, the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been named a “Top Producing Institution” of Fulbright student awards among research colleges and universities. 

The 2018-19 rankings from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs appear in the Chronicle of Higher Education. With 13 students receiving scholarships in the distinguished competition, UMass Amherst tied with Dartmouth College and Duke University in the 15th position.

UMass Amherst received the same distinction in the Fulbright Student Program for three consecutive years beginning with the 2014-15 rankings. And last year, UMass Amherst was named a top producing institution in the Fulbright Scholars category, with seven faculty members given awards to teach or conduct research on four continents.

Read The Full Story at UMass Amherst New Office

VITA Program Offers Free Tax Preparation for International Students

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Isenberg School of Management’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is offering UMass Amherst international students free tax preparation this year. Services are available from February 5 to April 10, 2019 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 4-6:00 p.m. in Isenberg Room G35. The VITA site is closed when the University campus is closed.

This is a first-come, first-serve program; VITA does not take appointments. The deadline for filing income tax forms is April 15, 2019.  Full information, including required documentation, is available here.

Deadline Extended for Barbara Burn Memorial Scholarship

Monday, January 28, 2019

The deadline for this year’s Barbara B. Burn Memorial Scholarship has been extended to February 8, 2019. The $1,000 scholarship was established in memory of the International Programs Office’s founder, Dr. Barbara Burn, who devoted her career to making international education accessible for any student.

Eligible applicants must:

  • Be currently enrolled as a sophomore, junior, or senior Bachelor’s degree international student at UMass Amherst as of the start of spring semester, 2019

  • Have a minimum cumulative average (GPA) of 3.75

  • Be sponsored by UMass Amherst in a non-immigrant visa status (i.e. F-1, J-1)

Students are invited to submit an electronic application to dutta [at] (Pamela Dutta) no later than 5:00 p.m. on  Friday, February 8, 2019.


IPO, CCPH To Host Counseling Sessions For International Students

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Going away to college is tough, and when you factor in adjusting to a new country, it can be even tougher. To help support this transition for international students, the International Programs Office (IPO) and CCPH are pleased to announce “Let’s Chat” sessions, beginning in January 2019.

These informal, free drop-in sessions will be led by Christopher Watkins from CCPH. Sessions are scheduled for January 30, February 12, 28, March 11, 29, April 10, 23, and May 6, all from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. in the Third Floor Conference Room at IPO.

International students are invited to discuss any issues they might be having—large or small— alone or in groups. “These sessions can become a sounding board to test out the idea of what it’s like to talk to someone,” Watkins says. “This is a safe place to explore—the intention is to create sessions that are grounding space for international students they can use as much or as little as they want.”

For information on the “Let’s Chat” drop-in sessions, contact Pamela Dutta.

UMass Amherst PhD Student Marsha Allen

Marsha Allen PhD ’23: “The World Needs More Hydrogeologists.”

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

For Marsha Allen PhD ’23, home is where the inspiration is. Allen is working on her dissertation with the goal of preventing water shortages on her native island of Tobago.

Tobago, along with much of the Caribbean, has experienced a massive drought over the past decade, spurred by shifts in the climate. UMass Hydrogeology Professor David Boutt’s 2014 studies of new potential groundwater in the island provide a basis for Allen’s research. “Dr. Boutt is one of the best hydrologists in the country right now—it’s amazing I got to work with him,” Allen said.

Allen plans to use geochemistry, climate, and groundwater modeling to meticulously illustrate the amount of water stored in its subsurface over time. “It’s become imperative to understand and use potable water sustainability. We see many countries or regions in the world experience drastic shifts in climate, leading to severe drought or severe flooding,” she said. “My research is directly related to climate change, since it completely shifts the amount of groundwater stored in the surface. Quantifying the amount of water in the subsurface at any period in time is important to sustainable water management for all countries.”

Allen hopes that cataloging conditions will inform local officials on how to adequately budget water usage to avoid shortages for the island’s population. “If we know how much water is stored based on the change in the rainfall, we can calculate well-pumping rates and create sustainability models for each island based on rainfall,” she said.

Working on her PhD is the latest chapter in Allen’s academic career; she earned a bachelor’s degree from Mount Holyoke College at age 30 in 2010 and earned her master’s degree from Brooklyn College in 2016 before coming to UMass in 2017. “Neither of my parents studied past the age of thirteen. Getting my education was something that I had to do,” she said.

After completing her PhD, Allen hopes to become an expert in managing water usage on islands. “The world needs more hydrogeologists,” she said.

2018 Holidays Hours In Effect December 20

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

IPO will operate under the following adjusted hours for the upcoming winter break:

Mon, Dec 24       8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Tues, Dec 25       CLOSED
Weds, Dec 26       8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.
Thurs, Dec 27     8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Fri, Dec 28           CLOSED
Mon, Dec 31       CLOSED
Tues, Jan 1          CLOSED

IPO will re-open (and resume normal business hours) on Weds, Jan 2 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

During the Break:

  • ISS & EA Advising by appointment only.
  • ISS WALK-IN advising will resume on Tues, Jan. 22, 2019.
  • Education Abroad Advising Center will re-open on Tues, Jan. 22, 2019.
  • Questions? Please give us a call at 413-545-2710 


Annual Burn Scholarship Applications Now Open

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Applications for this year’s Barbara B. Burn Memorial Scholarship are now open. The $1,000 scholarship was established in memory of the International Programs Office’s founder, Dr. Barbara Burn, who devoted her career to making international education accessible for any student. 

Eligible applicants must:

  • Be currently enrolled as a sophomore, junior, or senior Bachelor’s degree international student at UMass Amherst as of the start of spring semester, 2019
  • Have a minimum cumulative average (GPA) of 3.75
  • Be sponsored by UMass Amherst in a non-immigrant visa status (i.e. F-1, J-1)

Students are invited to submit an electronic application to dutta [at] (Pamela Dutta ) no later than 5:00 p.m. on  Friday, January 25, 2019 (the first week of spring semester).

December 7 OPT Session Canceled

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The International Programs Office(IPO)'s Optional Practical Training (OPT) session for Friday, December 7, 2018 has been canceled. We apologize for any inconvenience.

IPO is offering the following sessions in lieu of Friday's session:

December 13 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. 538 Goodell

Working in the US: OPT/CPT for Graduate Students

Ken Reade, Director of International Student & Scholar Services in the International Programs Office (IPO), will present the guidelines, limitations and application strategies for working/interning in the US with F-1 or J-1 Visas. Bring your employment questions about post-graduation, internships, OPT and CPT. Pre-registration required.

December 14  4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. IPO Room #104

In the interim, any questions about OPT can be referred to kjreade [at] (Ken Reade.)

Associate Provost for International Programs Kalpen Trivedi

Trivedi Named to NAFSA Leadership Post

Friday, November 2, 2018

Kalpen Trivedi, associate provost for international programs, has been appointed to serve as a member of the International Education Leadership Knowledge Community of NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

Trivedi’s two-year term will focus on NAFSA’s conference and symposium planning team.

He will assume the post in January and at the organization’s leadership meeting in Washington, D.C., in February.

NAFSA is the world’s largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education and exchange. It has 10,000 members at more than 3,500 institutions in more than 150 countries.

Story Via UMass Amherst News and Media Relations

UMass Amherst to Celebrate International Education Week Nov. 5 to 9

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

As part of International Education Week, the university will host events Nov. 5-9 that celebrate international exchange, the richness of cultures from around the world, education and community.

Highlights include the inaugural “Stand United, Fight Hate” lecture to be delivered by author and scholar of racism Ibram X. Kendi at the Fine Arts Center on Wednesday, Nov. 7 at 6 p.m. His talk will be based in part on his forthcoming book “How to Be an Antiracist.” The event is free and open to the public, but tickets must be reserved through the Fine Arts Center.

The week kicks off Monday, Nov. 5 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. at the Science and Engineering Library with a Building Bridges art exhibition and reception showcasing UMass Amherst worker-artists. Building Bridges fosters new connections among campus community members from varied backgrounds through art and creative expression, as well as through courses aimed at amplifying the voices of immigrant employees.

Other events include a coffee hour where students and other community members can meet over free coffee, tea and international snacks; panel discussions on safety for women traveling abroad and about race and ethnicity abroad; and the Yuri Kochiyama Cultural Center’s film festival showcasing Asian American experiences with “My Life in China,” “Nailed It” and “Yappie.”

“I’m very gratified that UMass Amherst continues to be a destination of choice for international students and scholars,” says Kalpen Trivedi, associate provost for International Programs. “International Education Week gives us a valuable opportunity to celebrate their presence and community on campus as well as highlight the important work of building an inclusive community that goes on each and every day at UMass.”

Chancellor Kumble R. Subbasway said, “I am delighted that we are again celebrating International Education Week. We are stronger for sharing our cultures, and UMass Amherst will always provide a welcoming and supportive learning environment for all members of our community.”

This fall, the university welcomed more than 1,000 new international undergraduate, graduate and exchange students from 61 countries. In all, international students at UMass Amherst represent more than 115 countries.

The university also surpassed a 2017 record, with 1,344 undergraduate students traveling abroad to study.

International Education Week is a joint initiative of the U.S. departments of State and Education for a worldwide celebration that highlights efforts to prepare citizens for a global environment.

To show support for the UMass Amherst international community, share posts and photos on social media using #IEW2018.

A Full Listing of IEW 2018 Events Is Available Here.

New York City Bus Trip Scheduled for November 3

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

International students are invited to participate in the Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning (LARP) department’s annual New York City trip. The trip will be guided by Professors Jack Ahern and Ethan Carr, and leaves from the Olver Design Building at 6:00 a.m. on November 3, returning around midnight that day. 

The bus will visit several points of interest in New York City, including Central Park, the 9/11 Memorial, and the Brooklyn Bridge. The trip costs $25.00, plus approximately $6.50 per person for subway rides. Students must register at the LARP main office, Room 210 in the Design Building.

Complete information is available on the LARP website.

Supreme Court Ruling on Case of Trump v Hawaii

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

On June 26, 2018 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled on the case of Trump v Hawaii, which sought to contest the most recent iteration of the administration’s travel ban on certain countries. The 5-4 Supreme Court decision ruled in favor of the current policy on the grounds that the President of the United States has the authority to enact such a policy. This Supreme Court ruling does not change or amend the current policy that has been in existence since September, 2017.

The following general guidance is issued for students and scholars from the affected countries currently on UMass F (student) or J (student or scholar) visa sponsorship. IPO will also be contacting all affected international members of our community on visa sponsorship with specific, targeted advice.

In the most recent and currently enforced travel regulation, citizens from the following countries have these particular limitations:

• Chad: No B-1, B-2 or B-1/B-2 visitor visas; no immigrant or diversity lottery visas.
• Iran: No nonimmigrant visas except F and M student visas and J exchange visitor visas; no immigrant or diversity lottery visas.
• Libya: No B-1, B-2 or B-1/B-2 visitor visas; no immigrant or diversity lottery visas.
• North Korea: No nonimmigrant, immigrant or diversity lottery visas.
• Somalia: Nonimmigrant visa applicants subject to heightened scrutiny; no immigrant or diversity visas.
• Syria: No nonimmigrant, immigrant or diversity lottery visas.
• Venezuela: No B-1, B-2 or B-1/B-2 visas for officials of designated Venezuelan government agencies. Other visa holders are subject to verification of traveler information. No restrictions on immigrant or diversity lottery visas.
• Yemen: No B-1, B-2 or B-1/B-2 visitor visas; no immigrant or diversity lottery visas.

It is particularly important to reiterate that travel remains restricted for Iranian citizens except for current holders, or applicants, of F, M and J visas (see above). Existing F and J visas for Iranian citizens remain valid and travel is not banned for holders of valid F and J visas. Current Iranians students or exchange visitors may apply for F and J visa renewals at US consulate abroad if necessary.

UMass Amherst continues to advise that those in our community who are citizens from the aforementioned countries to consider carefully the risks of any personal and professional international travel at this time.

Because everyone’s situation at UMass is different, we recommend that if you have any upcoming international travel plans, and you are a citizen of one of the aforementioned countries, please contact Ken Reade of the International Programs Office (IPO) at kjreade[at]ipo.umass[dot]edu to discuss your travel options. The IPO can provide you with additional information and a thorough review of your UMass-sponsored immigration status, as well as advising services for those affected.

If your upcoming plans involve domestic U.S. travel, and you are a citizen from one of the aforementioned countries, there are absolutely no restrictions or limitations on domestic U.S. travel, though it is always prudent to carry your passport and all other UMass-sponsored immigration documents, especially for air, train, bus and sea transportation.

Finally, with this latest Supreme Court ruling, it is important to reiterate that there are currently no new changes that impact existing immigration benefits for citizens of any country. Examples of such U.S. immigration benefits include applications for post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Academic Training (J-1 AT), or applications to change to any other immigration status from within the United States.

Further UMass contact information and related details can be referenced at the UMass IPO website or by calling 413-545-2710. For timely immigration updates from the University, check this page.

International Student Research Benefits Astronomers

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Shirin Montazeri, a PhD student in electrical and computer engineering, left Iran four years ago for UMass Amherst to take advantage of greater opportunities for women scientists and to study with faculty conducting groundbreaking research. Already, Montazeri, who will complete her doctorate in 2018, has achieved a breakthrough in the development of radio receivers used by astronomers.

“Our understanding from the sky is really limited; so we are trying to develop much more accurate receivers to help us better understand outer space,” she explains.  She has discovered a way to reduce power consumption of receivers in extremely low temperatures. Montazeri is a member of the UMass Amherst Radio Frequency Nanoelectronics Group, directed by Joseph Bardin, a faculty member in electrical and computer engineering.She also received a $6,000 fellowship from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Microwave Theory and Techniques Society.

Montazeri, who earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Tehran, is one of an estimated 1,432 international graduate students at UMass Amherst. Her home country of Iran ranks fourth after China, India, and South Korea for sending students to the commonwealth’s flagship campus. She says the adjustment to life in the U.S. and academic life at UMass was not easy at first. However, she says Bardin, her advisor, and staff at the International Programs Office have helped her with challenges. For instance, any visa issues that arise get a quick response from IPO staff. The UMass Amherst Graduate Women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), a support group,also has been helpful.She says she believes UMass Amherst will help her reach her goal of finding a job as a researcher in the U.S. “If someone is interested in doing high tech research, this is the place to consider because of all the talented people and the available research equipment,” says Montazeri.

International Student Konrad Gorich ’19

Konrad Gorich: International Athlete Wearing Maroon

Thursday, May 17, 2018

From Eberbach, Germany, Konrad Gorich ’18 is one of 58 international students who play varsity sports at UMass Amherst. He wears the Minuteman uniform for the men’s soccer team. He enrolled in the flagship campus, believing it was a perfect fit for pursuing his desire for strong academics and passion for playing soccer. Playing as a center back, Gorich carries impressive game-by-game statistics, such as during the 2016 season, assisting in the 2–0 shutout of Brown University and a recorded goal in the 3–2 win over the University of Hartford. On the academic side, he began as a sociology major and is now switching to sport management.

Like many international students, Gorich enriches the college experience for his classmates and teammates. UMass Amherst men’s soccer Head Coach Fran O’Leary says, “International students add life to an already diverse campus. They bring different cultures and perspectives that can only enhance the quality of the UMass experience.”

Gorich, he says, has already positively impacted the team. “Konrad has been a great addition to our program. In a short amount of time, he has assumed a leadership position both on and off the field,” says O’Leary.

Buddy Program Forges Lasting Connections

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

For international graduate student Ran Zhao ’17, all it took was a gentle nudge from a buddy. After arriving at UMass Amherst from China, “I wanted to do everything,” says Zhao. But she was unsure how to get involved. She found a mentor, Xiaohan “Kristy” Wen ’16, through the  Buddy Program at the International Programs Office (IPO). She sought advice from Wen:  “She said, ‘Join different clubs. Don’t be afraid, even as a freshman.’”

Zhao, who majored in hospitality and tourism management at the Isenberg School of Management, decided to join the school’s student chapter of the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality, where she was elected to the executive board for the 2016–17 academic year.

Wen, a sport management major, remembers the experience fondly: “For me, the IPO Buddy Program is about companionship and taking care of each other. IPO buddies are there to make the transition smoother and easier. But after that transition, that mentor-like relationship just becomes friendship.”

Coordinated by IPO, the Buddy Program pairs international students with student mentors to help ensure they have a successful transition to academic and social life at UMass Amherst. This effort is supported by a number of events. Buddies have enjoyed group outings to The Big E in West Springfield, Massachusetts, and the amusement park Six Flags New England. 

They’ve cheered on UMass football against Boston College at Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots. And they’ve enjoyed lively conversation over free food and drink as part of IPO’s twice-monthly International Coffee Hours.

Participation in the program has grown substantially since its inception in the spring of 2012, and there are now nearly 300 pairs of buddies assigned each year. There is also a trend of mentees becoming mentors.

Zhao became a mentor after she studied abroad in Switzerland. “I wanted to be an IPO buddy and see other international students and see them grow,” says Zhao. Her mentee, Nanyoung “Nancy” Ko ’20, credits her for making the adjustment to life at UMass much easier. “I was new to the environment, so everything was unfamiliar to me,” says Ko, an anthropology major from Korea. “[She] gave me tips to balance my free time and my studies. Also, I felt at ease having conversations with her because she sympathized with me on the culture difference I experienced at UMass.”

Lasting friendships may be one of the Buddy Program’s long-term rewards. Charlotte Hoff, a senior in management and communication and a member of Commonwealth Honors College, has forged an enduring friendship with her buddy, Gabriella Cofini from Australia. Hoff first learned of buddy programs while studying abroad on a UMass Amherst exchange program at the University of Wollongong in Australia. Having a mentor at Wollongong “made a world of difference,” so she committed to joining the IPO Buddy Program upon her return to Amherst. “I wanted to do what my mentor had done for me, and more,” says Hoff, who cites the camaraderie of crosscultural friendship to be among her most enriching college experiences. 

“As cliché as it sounds, it really does change your life.” Cofini adds that her friendship with Hoff was instant and has outlasted her time at UMass: “Not only was Charlotte a helpful buddy, we also gained a lifetime friendship out of it, and I’m so lucky to have experienced that.” —Sean Gordon

Graduating International Students Honored at 5th Annual Reception

Friday, May 4, 2018

The UMass community celebrated the 200+ graduating international students at the 5th Annual 2018 International Graduation Reception on May 2. The event, MC’d by Director of International Students and Scholars, Kenneth Reade, featured speeches by Associate Provost of International Programs, Kalpen Trivedi, student Jessica Furtado, and a musical performance by PhD students Sheikh Muhammad Sarwar and Anirudh Sabnis. 

The campus community was represented by Dean of Students Cara Appel-Silbaugh; Special Assistant to Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and Campus Life Sid Ferreira; Interim Director of Student Legal Services Office Corey Carvalho; Associate Chancellor for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion/Chief Diversity Officer Anna Branch; and Director of the Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate Program/Senior Lecturer, Department of Sociology, C.N. Le.

Trivedi, the event’s keynote speaker, emphasized the unity and diversity implicit in origins of the medieval university, and the power of individuals coming together to accomplish shared goals. “We are many things made into one; everyone wins when boundaries are crossed,” he said.

Furtado—who was recently named as the International Programs Office’s Barbara Burn scholarship winner—reflected on her academic career at UMass, recalling finding her love for research, co-managing the Peoples Market, and work as a Teaching Assistant and Peer Mentor. She concluded her speech with a call to her fellow international graduates: “We’ve made it—the rest of the world is waiting for us.”

Sarwar and Sabnis performed two songs—one Hindi, one Bengali— on guitar and piano. The duo is graduating from the College of Information & Computer Sciences.

The international students will join more than 5,500 other graduates at this year’s UMass Commencement May 11 at McGuirk Alumni Stadium.

Nancy Condon, Community Ambassador in the International Programs Office

Nancy Condon, IPO Community Ambassador, to Retire After 23 Years

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

After 23 years at UMass as Advisor to International Scholars in the International Programs Office (IPO), Nancy Condon will retire this month. In addition to advising international scholars, faculty and staff on the nuances of US immigration regulations, Nancy has also been instrumental in coordinating the “Round the World Women” program in conjunction with the Amherst Town Committee for International Students. Over the years, Nancy has also been very involved professionally with NAFSA: Association of International Educators, and the International Student & Scholar Forum, as well as the Five College International Office Group.

“It has been a pleasure working with and being a part of the immigration process for thousands of UMass researchers and professors over the past 23 years,” states Condon.  “From the initial inquiry by the departments; to the preparation of visa documents; to the trepidation of consular interviews; and finally, sharing the excitement of a new home in the UMass Amherst community, working at the International Programs Office has given me an appreciation for the similarities and differences of cultures and a lifetime of worldwide friendships.”

Ken Reade, Director of International Student and Scholar Services, adds “Nancy has literally welcomed the world to UMass Amherst over the course of her 23-year career in the IPO. Her kindness, care and generosity to the international scholar community has touched the lives of thousands. Nancy has served as a loyal ambassador to UMass, and its extended global reach, and we all owe her a tremendous amount of gratitude for her loyal service. I am delighted for her and her family upon her retirement and wish her all the very best.”

The campus community is invited to attend a reception in honor of Nancy on Wednesday, May 9 from 5:00 p.m. -7:00 p.m. in the Marriott Center (11th floor of the Campus Center). Please RSVP to Kstender[at]umass[dot]edu by May 7 if you would like to attend.

Bao “Terry” Cao ’19, a UMASS student double majoring in sociology and sport management from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

International Student Hones Coaching Skills Abroad

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

For Bao “Terry” Cao ’19, a double major in sociology and sport management from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, coming to UMass Amherst marked the first time he had lived in another country. Within a year, however, he had settled in and decided he was ready for his next cross-cultural adventure: a UMass Amherst study-abroad program.

He was not disappointed in his choice: “Studying abroad completely changed me,” Cao says.

He opted to study at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. A passionate soccer player, coach, and fan, Cao thought the English city would align well with his academics and personal interests. “Being a soccer guy, it was a perfect fit for me,” says Cao, who spent the
2016–2017 academic year in Manchester.

While there, Cao enrolled in a number of courses that fulfilled his UMass General Education requirements and electives that allowed him to stay on track to graduate with his two majors.

At Manchester, Cao attended a soccer match at Old Trafford, home of the legendary Manchester United Football Club, where he described the atmosphere as “absolutely surreal.”

His coaching experience in Manchester gave Cao the opportunity to develop and implement his own style, which he has since applied to a soccer coaching company he founded in his home
country. “Our philosophy is that we don’t do anything that is unrealistic and that doesn’t show up in a real game,” he says. “We focus predominantly on letting kids play matches.” —Sean Gordon

Support The International Programs Office

Clearing up a Foggy Path to Success

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

For some, New England winters provide a wonderland, while others see only inconvenience and nuisance. UMass Amherst graduate and international student Yinyong Li ’12G, ’16PhD had a common and recurring problem: his eyeglasses would fog up after coming in from the cold. However, the solution to the problem this polymer and engineering scientist discovered was anything but common.  

Li invented a product that can be coated onto glass to prevent fogging. FogKicker is a biodegradable, waterproof coating that condenses fog-enabling water droplets to a thin film of water. What sets FogKicker apart from other defogging solutions is that it is nonirritating and 10 times more water-resistant than its competitors. That’s because FogKicker is made from the biopolymer nanocellulose, a natural component of plants that makes their stems and leaves durable.   

Li, who hails from China, is one of approximately 1,500 international graduate students at the flagship campus. Li came to UMass Amherst in 2010 after completing his undergraduate degree in polymer science and engineering at Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang. He completed his doctoral research in surface modification and surface chemistry and is currently a postdoctoral researcher in polymer science at UMass. He says he was drawn to UMass Amherst by the strength of its polymer science program.  

Through his studies, FogKicker—a product of Treaty LLC—was launched. The biotech company was cofounded by Li and Marc Gammell ’17 and is targeting the sports goggle industry, notably dive masks and snow sports. Eventually, Li says he hopes to further develop FogKicker for use on bathroom mirrors, prescription eyewear, windshields, and medical lenses. In April, Treaty LLC won first prize in the 2017 VentureWell Open Showcase for FogKicker, the most recent of many awards. FogKicker won the 2015 UMass Innovation Challenge, the 2016 Valley Venture Mentors Accelerator Award, and a 2016 National Science Foundation Innovations Corps Grant.