international students

Drury International Student Association hosts Thanksgiving Dinner event

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Nov. 17, 2017 — Few holiday traditions are as iconically American as Thanksgiving dinner. But for students who are visiting America from other countries, this tradition can present an unexpected cultural gap.

“A lot of international students come here with no idea what Thanksgiving is,” says Manuel Meyer, an international student from Ghana and President of Drury University’s International Student Association.

Each year, the association hosts a Thanksgiving Dinner event with the purpose of introducing Drury’s international student population to this important American tradition. This year’s event takes place at 5:30 p.m. this evening, in the Hoblit Suite of Drury’s Freeman Panhellenic Hall (campus map).

The dinner includes turkey, potatoes, pies, and other traditional Thanksgiving foods. All students are invited to attend, and ISA members hope that the experience will lead to new relationships and lasting connections among students from around the world and here at home.

“It really bridges the gap between internationals and Americans,” says Meyer. “That’s what I see as the most important part of it.”

During the dinner, students are given the opportunity to stand up and express what they are thankful for. For some participants, the moment itself is a reason to be grateful.

“It reminds us to be thankful for the opportunity to be here in America in the first place,” says Velona Tawfik, a sophomore from Egypt. “Not a lot of people have the opportunity to travel half way across the world to come and study America.”

Madeline Smith, a Vice President of Drury’s ISA, believes that American students can gain as much from the event as their peers from other countries.

“When you hear people go around the table and say the things they are thankful for you realize that it is not really exclusive,” Smith says. “Anyone can be a part of this American tradition because everyone understands that idea of having thanks for the things that they have in their lives.”


30th International Food Festival celebrates cultures, friendships

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., April 7, 2017 — International students at Drury University will share their cultures with friends and guests through food and performance during the 30th annual International Food Festival at 6 p.m., Saturday, April 8 at the Commons in Findlay Student Center.

This year’s theme is the 1980s and ’80s attire is encouraged. Media are welcome to cover the event.

This popular dinner is truly a university-wide celebration, with numerous faculty, staff and American students joining their international friends each year. With nearly 13 percent of the undergraduate student population hailing from 53 countries, international culture is an important aspect of everyday life at Drury. These students bring a rich diversity of backgrounds and perspectives to campus, further enhancing a focus on global learning at a university where about half all undergraduates study abroad during their academic career.


Food is an important medium for sharing cultures because, “every culture uses food as a part of their celebrations,” says Heejung Cromley, director of international support services. The festival will feature foods from Egypt, Vietnam, France, Pakistan, Venezuela, China, Korea, and other countries.

The guests enjoying the food are not the only ones who get a meaningful experience. Students put in a lot of effort to prepare the food and it is often a daylong process. “They work so hard as a team and build friendships through this event,” says Cromley. This event is a way for international students to enjoy spending time with one another and share their culture with the community.

“It is such a wonderful opportunity for our international students to share who they are by introducing their culture through food and sharing,” says Cromley.


Media Contact: Heejung Cromley, Director of International Support Services: (417) 873-7885 or

Thursday service at Stone Chapel to honor victims of terrorist attacks 

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Nov. 18, 2015 — Drury University will hold service to honor and memorialize the victims of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut at 11 a.m., Thursday, in the Stone Chapel sanctuary. The service is open to the public and media are welcome to cover it.

Drury’s Chamber Choir will perform two selections. Dr. Cathy Blunk, professor of French, will speak about the events in Paris. Elio Challita, a Drury student from Lebanon studying economics and biochemistry, will speak about the attacks in Beirut that occurred on Thursday and claimed more than 40 lives.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims’ families and friends as well as to the people of both France and Lebanon at this difficult time,” says University Chaplain Dr. Peter Browning, who will lead the service. “We also wish to lift up the international students from these two countries who study at Drury. We will gather Thursday to acknowledge the loss, pray for those most deeply affected, and focus ourselves on the task of working to create a world where all may live in peace.”


International students strengthen friendships with annual ‘Food Fest’

International students at Drury University recently had a chance to proudly share a taste – literally – of their home cultures with their American peers.

The International Food Festival is an annual event organized by the International Student Association. With a formal “black and white” theme this year, the dinner was a chance to get dressed up, have fun on a Saturday night and amplify the type of cultural exchange that happens daily on campus.

Despite the name, the event is about more than food. There were performances of traditional songs, music and dances, as well as a few just-for-fun performances of American songs. The highlight of the evening is the “Parade of Flags” in which students carry the colors of their homelands through the banquet hall – beaming with pride as they do so.

Food Fest

“Everything was made by international students, from the food to the traditional clothing,” says Yousra Alaoui-Sosse, a sophomore biology major from Morocco.

Brandon Roellig, a junior from mid-Missouri, is friends with many foreign students who are fellow architecture majors or fraternity brothers. He attended the dinner to support his friends and jumped at the chance to try food from their home countries.

“Drury would not be the same without the internationals, I know that much,” Roellig says. “We (Americans) really connect with them. They bring a different culture to campus, a different environment, and I love it.”

International students make up about 12 percent of Drury’s total enrollment, a number that’s been growing in recent years. They hail from more than 50 countries.

“Coming here to the United States and being international is just awesome because no matter how different we are, we all fit,” says Alaoui-Sosse. “We’re all different, but we’re all accepted for who we are.”

Drury’s close-knit atmosphere provides an excellent place for internationals to form friendships amongst themselves and with their fellow students from the United States.

“Americans are very open-minded, very open to change or to try something new,” says Stefanie Monsch, a senior marketing & management major from Germany. “Americans actually do want to learn about something new. They do want to learn about another culture.”


Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations. A version of this story originally appeared in the Springfield News-Leader. 

Drury forms academic partnership with Kansas City’s Barstow School

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Dec. 12, 2014 — The leaders of Drury University and the Barstow School in Kansas City signed a memorandum of understanding Thursday that will help bolster both schools’ commitment to academic excellence and engaged global learning.

Barstow is an independent, co-educational college preparatory school in Kansas City. Founded in 1884, the school boasts a rich academic tradition, with a special commitment to international learning through affiliate schools in China, Japan, Germany and Australia.

Dr. David Manuel, Drury President, and Shane Foster, Head of the Barstow School in Kansas City.

Dr. David Manuel, Drury President, and Shane Foster, Head of the Barstow School in Kansas City.

The agreement will streamline admission of Barstow graduates into Drury University and create a collaborative learning partnership between the two schools. The partnership will meet the needs of a growing community of Barstow students across the globe who desire a first-rate American education, and it will deepen Drury’s commitment to diversity and international enrollment. About 12 percent of Drury’s current student body hails from 51 foreign countries.

Major points of the partnership include:

  • International students who are on track to complete their high school diploma from Barstow’s Kansas City campus or any of its international campuses – and who meet certain GPA, English proficiency and other requirements – will be guaranteed admission to Drury.
  • A Barstow/Drury Scholarship will be established for international students from the Barstow School who meet admission criteria. Scholarships will range from $1,000 to $3,000 annually and can be added to other earned academic awards.
  • Drury faculty will travel to Barstow’s Shanghai and Ningbo campuses in China to offer advanced instruction in subjects not often taught in China, such as creative writing. Drury faculty will act as professors in residence on each campus during January intersessions, and will be selected for participation and travel to China on a competitive basis.
  • The schools will develop summer immersion experiences for international Barstow students on Drury’s campus in Springfield. These residential experiences will include an introduction to the American system of higher education and the American experience. The programs will be led by Drury faculty and could include a wide range of cultural and social activities.

“Drury and Barstow have a common heritage through our founding in the liberal arts tradition, and a shared vision for global education in the 21st century,” said Dr. David Manuel, Drury’s president. “This partnership will give Barstow’s international students an avenue to continue their American education in a familiar setting, and it gives Drury access to an outstanding pool of bright and highly dedicated young minds.”

Media contacts: Mike Brothers, Drury’s Director of Media Relations, (417) 873-7390 or; or Kellye Crocket, Director of Admission & Marketing at the Barstow School, (816)  277-0413 or