The Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) is housed in the Intercultural Center on Manchester University’s campus. OMA plays a major role in the transition of international, multicultural and BCA students. This begins with International Student Orientation, where BCA international students get a crash course covering what MU is all about– the place they will be spending the next semester or year. It is also where many people tend to form a second family at MU.
The Intercultural Center is one (if not the only) building on campus open 24/7. Many internationals tend to utilize it for the computers and webcams to Skype with their families at very late hours or to join together to celebrate a holiday they would usually celebrate back home. The students have access to the kitchen 24/7 with supplies and utensils so they can cook food for themselves at night and/or share some of their favorite dishes from their home country with others.
There are five student-run organizations at MU, including the African Student Association (ASA), Asian Awareness Association (AAA), Black Student Union (BSU), Hispanos Unidos (HU) and Manchester University International Association (MUIA). These organizations give international students the opportunity to express their home culture and bring awareness to their new campus community. In addition, these groups also give others from outside their culture the chance to learn more about their customs and language and discuss current events.
International students also have the opportunity to visit other universities’ cultural shows and celebrations and try ethnic foods in larger more diverse cities in Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. For example, Chicago is only a little more than an hour away from MU by car. Other trips include attending minor league basketball and baseball games, as well as weekly shuttle trips to run errands, shop, or eat at various restaurants.
While MU is a small community, students, faculty and staff tend to create long lasting friendships and genuine relationships. This can be seen as various alumni affiliated with OMA return to campus for various events throughout the school year to support and make connections with current OMA students. This results in a strong support system that can extend into opportunities to find jobs, internships, housing, etc. after international students finish their time at Manchester.