The world comes to Tiffin

Tiffin is nicknamed the Educational Community. Three local educators hope to bring even more international culture to the community.

Through the years, Tiffin has grown with more international students coming to the area, according to Rachel Crooks, director of International Student Advising at Tiffin University.

Crooks and Julie Arnold, director of International Affairs and Studies at Heidelberg University, and Joe Moore, director of the International Cultural Center, presented “Win-Win By Internationalizing Your Community” last month at the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers conference in Columbus.

Crooks said the group presented to schools that are similar in organization as TU and Heidelberg and how the Cultural Center works as a liaison between the colleges, schools and community.

“The presentation had the premise that everyone involved is winning,” Crooks said.

According to the presentation, Tiffin University has 200 international students from more than 30 countries. Heidelberg has 30 international students from 12 countries.

The group wants to spread the word there are many opportunities available to encounter international cultures.

“We are lucky to be able to experience different populations in one local area,” Moore said. “It changes how someone looks at the world.”

Moore said a young student may get the chance to meet someone from France, Bulgaria or anywhere around the world.

“With meeting a student from a different culture, younger students are able to make further connections throughout the world that they may not have ever had the experience to do,” Moore said. “The community gets a chance to enjoy all of our students.”

Tiffin University has a host program called Adopt a Dragon, where residents can host an international student and take them to area events.

Crooks said the program started in November 2013; about 20 students have participated so far.

“We are expected to have a lot of new international students this fall, so we expect the number of participants to increase,” she said.

Other experiences have included the Tiffin Welcomes the World reception, the “We Chose Tiffin” parade during the Tiffin-Seneca Heritage Festival and the International Festival. Students also have volunteered as speakers in local schools, at service organizations and other venues.

Tiffin Mayor Aaron Montz said there are many benefits to having international students here.

“With Tiffin being in the center of the country, many residents don’t get to interact with individuals from different international cultures,” Montz had said.

Recently, international students have been a part of international story times at Tiffin-Seneca Public Library and as part of international dinners at Phat Cakes.

“Students come from a foreign country and live on campus for four years,” Crooks said. “We want them to be able to move off campus and make connections within the community that normally has a limited diversity, and to experience more.”