Caution: Groups that Approach New International Students

Dear Students,

Welcome to the University of Michigan!

The International Center (IC) promotes IC, U-M, and community-sponsored events on our website, through social media(Facebook and Instagram), and in our weekly email newsletters. We encourage you to attend the many free, fun events during U-M's Welcome to Michigan program, including opportunities to join student clubs and organizations at Festifall (August 30th and September 1st).

You can continue to explore some of the themes covered in the IC's orientation workshops by participating in our International Student Lunch Conversations. Throughout the year, check out the IC Cultural and Social Events Calendar, the Center for Campus Involvement website for events they host, and the Happening @ Michigan calendar search engine. These are great opportunities to connect with your fellow students and to begin feeling at home in Ann Arbor.

You may see announcements for programs or services targeted to international students by various groups or individuals. Individuals promoting these events may distribute flyers near the IC or outside of our events. They do so to make it appear that they were invited to be there by the IC or that they are affiliated with the IC. I want to make it clear that these individuals are NOT affiliated with the IC and are usually NOT affiliated with U-M. They seek out international students when they might feel most vulnerable and lonely, as they adjust to life in this new place.

As this is the first time on a U.S. campus for many of you, I want you to know about proselytization (i.e. to promote or convert someone to another religion, faith, or belief). Some groups that are affiliated with religious organizations organize events and excursions which take place away from campus specifically for international students. They may or may not identify their religious affiliation on their advertisements. On the surface, these activities may seem fun. However, in many cases, the ultimate purpose of the event is proselytization. If you do choose to attend a group's event, please know that you are under no pressure later to attend a religious service or meeting, or to spend additional time with the group organizers. Any coercion for you to do so is unacceptable. You should feel no pressure from any individual or group, and if you do, firmly say, "No thank you." and walk away.

If you have any questions about the content of this email or about any campus or community-based organization, please feel free to contact the IC.

Thank you,

Judith Pennywell, Ed.D.
Director, International Center