Campus Life  

International Students Events

International Student Life Events

International Student Life strives to serve as An Archway to UGA for international students as well as An Archway to the World for those seeking an international experience within the University and Athens communities. 

To achieve this goal ISL offers numerous events, programs, and services that support international students as well as promote internationalization on the UGA campus including: orientation for new and transfer international students, a weekly coffee hour during the fall and spring semesters, international festivals, a peer mentor program, social and cultural opportunities to meet other students within the UGA community, cultural events, organizational advisement for thirty international and multinational groups, personal and crisis counseling/referral, and leadership development opportunities for both U.S. and international students. 

ISL programs and services provide cultural and educational opportunities for international and domestic students to interact and share their cultures with the University and Athens communities.  Additionally, by volunteering and/or serving as a student leader with the ISL office, UGA students have the unique opportunity to develop intercultural leadership skills within an international setting.  Please contact the office for more information about specific events, leadership opportunities, as well as how to get involved with ISL.


Coffee Hour

Coffee Hour at the University of Georgia is a weekly program that brings UGA students, faculty, staff, and community members together over coffee and international cuisine.  Excluding scheduled University breaks, this event occurs every Friday during the fall and spring semesters from 11:30 am until 1:30 pm in the Memorial Hall Ballroom.  The UGA Coffee Hour is one of the longest running programs of its kind across the United States. 

Coordinated by ISL staff members, Coffee Hour typically includes finger foods from around the world (including the United States!) and has a different host each week including UGA international student organizations, University departments and offices, community groups, and many others.   The International Student Life Office typically hosts the first and last Coffee Hour of each semester.  All other dates are available for groups interested in sponsoring and/or co-hosting this event.  Contact International Student Life for more information about the schedule for this semester as well as how your organization can sponsor / host a Coffee Hour.  Please keep in mind that the schedule for Coffee Hour typically fills one semester prior to the event, so please contact ISL early if your group is interested in hosting.


Ethnic Nights

Each year several ISL student organizations [link to student organization page] elect to host evenings of culture that showcase a variety of global traditions, customs, international performances, and culinary delights.  These evenings are referred to as Ethnic Nights and provide a wonderful way to travel around the world without leaving Athens.  Ethnic Nights are ticketed events and the actual number of cultural evenings varies from year to year.  Contact ISL or specific student organizations for more information concerning this year’s schedule of Ethnic Nights.

Global Friends Peer Mentor Program

Global Friends is a peer mentor program that was created by International Student Life in 2000 as a way to provide opportunities for international and U.S. students to connect with each other.  Sponsored in part by the UGA Parent’s and Families Association, Global Friends matches current UGA students with new or transfer international students each semester.  During the academic year ISL organizes at least one event per month including cultural / educational opportunities such as visiting the Carter Center in Atlanta, carving pumpkins, celebrating Thanksgiving, or attending UGA athletic events together.  Through this program participants are able to create life-long global friendships while learning more about the various cultures and societies they represent.  Contact ISL for more information about how to become involved with Global Friends.


Global Leadership Institute

The Global Leadership Institute (GLI) is a series of internationally-focused seminars that facilitate opportunities for students to enhance a variety of global competencies. GLI seminars seek to internationalize the student experience at the University of Georgia by informing cultural awareness, promoting diversity appreciation, and advancing student engagement in the community.

Students who attend all three seminars will receive a Certificate in Global Leadership from International Student Life. If you are only able to attend two seminars, a short paper may be submitted to earn the certificate. Questions? Contact ISL at or 706.542.5867.


International Education Week

In 2001, the United States Department of State and Department of Education created International Education Week to promote the benefits of international education and worldwide exchange.  This week is celebrated annually across the United States and typically occurs during the month of November each year.  In an effort to provide programs and services that prepare UGA students for a global environment, ISL celebrated its first IEW in 2001 by creating the first international festival ever held on the UGA campus called Around the World in Tatey Days (now referred to as World Fest).  

Since 2001 ISL has expanded its IEW programs to include an international film festival, a global discussion series (Tea Talks), workshops on international careers, dessert receptions, cultural / educational celebrations including a Thanksgiving Feast for international students, panel discussions relating to the Peace Corps, special entertainment / performances during Coffee Hour, international student artists exhibits, and co-sponsorship of other UGA International Education Week events on campus.  In November 2006, ISL extended International Education Week to a month-long series of events on the UGA campus. 

For specific information about ISL’s programs during International Education Month this year or to help plan and organize these events, please contact the staff at International Student Life.


International Graduation Ceremony

ISL created the first International Graduation Ceremony in December 2002 to honor and celebrate the achievements of international students and ISL student leaders graduating from The University of Georgia.  A ceremony is held in December and May of each year and is intended to serve as a complement to the UGA Commencement Exercises.  The International Graduation Ceremony highlights the special accomplishments and sacrifices made by international students and their families and also includes a complimentary reception immediately following for graduates and their guests. 

The Ceremony is free for UGA students and their loved ones, but graduates must contact the ISL Office to register for this event in order to participate.  Interested students may also wish to purchase an international sash from the ISL Office showcasing their native homeland for use during the Ceremony.  Contact ISL staff for information concerning sash prices and / or deadlines for registering for this ceremony each semester.


International Student Orientation

ISL organizes an international student orientation each semester for new and transfer international students matriculating to the University of Georgia. The information included in the ISL orientations is not covered by any other orientation program on campus. The spring and summer orientations are a one-day event and the fall orientation is a five-day program. Highlights from ISL's orientation schedules include information concerning immigration issues, taxes for non-residents, cross-cultural adjustment, housing assistance, course registration procedures, Social Security Cards, UGA payroll, and campus tours. Current UGA students serve as orientation leaders (called World Leaders) to assist with international orientation sessions.

International Student Orientation this year will be from August 4th – 8th, 2014, with additional social/educational events on August 9th and August 10th. We are hosting a number of informative and important sessions during the week including information about Social Security Numbers, housing, and course registration information. We strongly recommend that all new and transfer international students attend this orientation program.

For more information about International Student Orientation, please visit our International Student Orientation page.


International Street Festival

General Information
The International Street Festival (also known as ISF or Street Fest) was created in 1999 and is an annual event that promotes internationalization and cultural awareness within the Athens community. The Festival is student and family friendly and boasts an attendance of 3,000 – 5,000 visitors each year. Various UGA student groups and community organizations host exciting cultural displays and performances throughout the Festival which occurs in downtown Athens each spring. Annually, Street Fest is sponsored by International Student Life and has previously received generous contributions from Allison Krache, Athens A+ Tae Kwon Do, Perception Kayaks, R.E.M., UGA's Dean of Students, UGA's Office of Institutional Diversity, and UGA's Residence Hall Association.

Host a Street Fest Display
Table displays for the International Street Festival typically come from registered UGA international and multinational student organizations as well as interested community members.  All displays must incorporate a heavy international/cultural component and/or serve as a financial sponsor for the event in order to participate.  Final authorization of groups hosting table displays is made by the Street Fest Planning Committee and ISL staff members.  Contact the ISL Office for more information concerning deadlines and how to register your group, country, organization, or sponsoring agency for a table.

Perform at the International Street Festival
Many international groups and organizations present exciting cultural performances at the Street Festival each year.  Past acts have included Korean drumming, Brazilian martial arts, African dance, Bluegrass music, flamenco dancing, demonstrations of salsa and meringue, individual soloists and artists, Chinese lion dances, international fashion shows, International story telling, Korean martial arts, and belly dancing. 

As mentioned previously, all aspects of the International Street Festival are free and open to the public.  Due to the nature of this popular event as a free festival, ISL staff seeks groups and organizations that are willing to share their international talents with the Athens community at no cost to the Festival.  If your group or organization is interested in performing for this year’s Street Fest, please contact the ISL Office for more information.  Final authorization of groups performing is made by the Street Fest Planning Committee and ISL staff members.

Sponsor ISL’s International Street Festival
Two of the distinguishing characteristics of the International Street Festival includes not only our international theme, but also our strong commitment to the Athens community to make each and every aspect of this event free to the public. We have been able to achieve this objective since the Festival’s inception due to the generous support of various departments within the University of Georgia as well as local businesses, organizations, and Athens community members each year. For a complete list of our wonderful sponsors and donors from last year’s Festival contact ISL. If your business or organization would like to help support the International Street Festival, please contact the ISL Office for more information.

Student Leadership & Volunteering for Street Fest
The ISL Office needs creative and energetic students to help with the planning and coordination of the Street Festival each year.  The planning process starts one year in advance of the Festival and the student planning meetings typically begin in the late Fall / early spring semester each year.  ISL is looking for students who are interested in serving as either a general member or as the committee chairperson for any of the following Street Fest Planning Committees:  

  • Fundraising (helps raise funds as well as give-away items for the Festival)
  • Advertising (helps create & implement an advertising plan and marketing strategies for the event)
  • Performances (recruits all performance groups for the day and provides support for stage management during the event)
  • Organizations (works directly with all organizational/community displays and serves as a liaison between the ISF planning committee and the hosts for each display)
  • Children's Corner & Children’s Activities (coordinates the Children’s Corner at the Festival including organizing activities for participants throughout the day)

For more information concerning the role of each committee or to sign up to volunteer, please contact the International Student Life Office.


Summer Support

For the international students who remain in Athens during the summer break, International Student Life is open year-round. Students interested in connecting with people from around the world during the summer months can contact the ISL staff for additional information. Additionally, ISL offers a summer orientation for new and incoming international students. Individuals interested in volunteering to help welcome new students should contact ISL to register to volunteer.


Tea Talks

Tea Talks are a monthly program designed to be an intimate gathering located in the ISL Lounge (210 Memorial Hall) to discuss various issues of international concern.  Past speakers have included UGA students, faculty and staff who have spoken on topics including the conflict between North and South Korea, issues concerning Muslim women, cultural seminars for various countries, Amnesty International, Darfur, discussions about re-entry to UGA life after returning from a study abroad experience, and A Day in the Life of a Peace Corps Volunteer.  Individuals or groups interested in hosting a Tea Talk should contact ISL for more information. 


Thanksgiving Feast

In conjunction with local community groups, International Student Life has co-hosted an annual Thanksgiving meal for international students at UGA since November 2000.  The Thanksgiving Feast is a cultural/educational event that provides a unique opportunity for international students to learn more about the customs, traditions, and holidays celebrated in the United States.  This experience is free for UGA international students, but individuals wishing to participate must contact the ISL office to register.  For specific information concerning the date and time of this year’s event, please call International Student Life.


World Fest

Created in the fall semester of 2000, World Fest (originally known as Around the World in Tatey Days) was the first on-campus international festival of its kind at UGA.  Now an annual tradition at the University, World Fest is organized by various student organizations in conjunction with the ISL office.  This free event (typically held on the Tate Plaza during International Education Month in November each year) is an outdoor festival boasting international displays, multinational performances, global cuisine, and a unique opportunity for UGA students to travel around the world without leaving campus.  For more information about hosting a table or performance or to volunteer to help organize this event, please contact an ISL staff member.


World Leaders Program

The World Leaders Program first began in 2001 with the creation of a brand new format for International Student Life’s fall International Student Orientation.  For the first time UGA students had the distinctive opportunity to serve as international student orientation leaders (also known as World Leaders) in order to help plan, organize, and implement all aspects of the international student orientation program sponsored by ISL.  The World Leaders dedicate approximately 80-100 hours of volunteer service to help new and transfer international students settle in to University life and the Athens community and are selected through an application and interview process each year. 

Expectations for this group of highly motivated and dedicated students include a passion for international students, a team spirit, and a sincere desire to serve others.  Specific roles for the World Leaders during the ISL orientation include participating in a training program, leading orientation sessions, helping students find housing, serving as role models and leaders for group sessions, building relationships with each other as well as the new students, teaching UGA traditions and customs, planning and implementing all social activities for the week, as well as serving as a UGA student resource.  Contact the office for more information regarding deadlines, interest meetings, and/or how to apply this year.  [World Leader application PDF]

International Student Life | The University of Georgia | 210 Memorial Hall | Athens, Georgia 30602-3108  USA
Phone: +USA 706-542-5867 | Fax: +USA 706-583-0006
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