The Tufts community received an email announcing Andrew Shiotani as the new director of the International Center (I-Center) on Jan. 28. Shiotani assumes the leadership role of Jane Etish-Andrews, who retired after 35 years of work at Tufts.
The I-Center provides immigration and student services to undergraduate and graduate students across all of Tufts’ schools.
According to the email, Shiotani previously served as the associate director for International Student and Scholar Services at the University of Oregon in Eugene. He also worked as the program coordinator of the Office of Global Engagement at Seattle University, and associate director of the Office of International Services at Teachers College Columbia University in New York City.
Shiotani expressed his excitement in joining the Tufts community in an interview with the Daily.
“I am thrilled to be here at Tufts,” Shiotani said. “I’ve always known it to be a school that has an amazing array of academic programs and students and faculty from around the world that are globally engaged and really highly committed to becoming leaders in their respective fields.”
He also commended Etish-Andrews for the programs and opportunities the I-Center provided to students under her leadership.
“There is a wonderful foundation of programs already in place to support students that includes the GO pre-orientation program,” he said.
Shiotani also noted the university’s reputation as a factor that encouraged him to join the institution as director of the I-Center.
“What really attracted me to Tufts was Tufts’ academic and international reputation,” Shiotani said. “It is an incredibly academically and culturally vibrant institution.”
Having lived in Somerville 30 years ago, he established a long-term personal connection to Tufts.
“I knew Tufts from then and my friends from college actually went to Tufts,” Shiotani said. “I’ve had personal connections with Tufts — it was not an unknown entity to me.”
Diana Chigas, senior international officer and associate provost, oversees the I-Center and spoke to the Daily about the change in organization of the center. She explained that, in the past, there were three offices: the International Center located on the Medford campus, the International Student and Scholar Advisor Office at the Fletcher School and an International Office in Boston for the Health Sciences campus. As of July 1, 2018 they were combined into one university-wide center located on the Medford campus.
Chigas also acknowledged current differences between the I-Center and the Group of Six, of which the I-Center used to be a member.
“When it was set up, the International Center was part of the School of Arts and Sciences and was set up the same as the other group of centers,” Chigas said. “The big difference with the I-Center is that it also has to do the visa services with student scholars and faculty. It’s not part of the Group of Six because it’s not reporting to the same person … now it serves a much larger constituency.”
According to Chigas, though the I-Center is not similar in organization to the Group of Six, it collaborates and cooperates with the other centers to provide support and programming for students.
Chigas explained the selection of Shiotani as director of the I-Center, noting that his strong leadership skills added to his qualifications.
“A lot of the I-Center was very undergraduate-focused so a lot of what we were looking at when we were looking for a new director was someone who was really good at the immigration stuff and someone who was committed to and has the experience in programming support for students,” she said. “Andrew was really knowledgeable and detail-oriented and very involved in creating orientation programs.”
First-year student Haitong Du has had positive experiences with the I-Center, noting that its events and workshops have been very helpful to him.
“In my experience the I-Center has been very competent in providing instructions on how students obtain certain legal documentation, and they also organize monthly events including workshop sessions to help international students file taxes,” Du said. “All of these are very helpful.”
Du hopes that the I-Center will create events aimed at allowing students to receive more firsthand experience in the future, in addition to the biweekly discussions that the I-Center currently holds.
“In the beginning of the year they had a discussion group that was more of a roundtable discussion,” Du said. “I think these discussions in the past have been very good in engaging the students, but in the future I’m really hoping to see more hands-on experience. For example, teaching students how to cook because cuisines or cooking are a major component in every culture.”
Du expressed excitement for the Parade of Nations, an annual spring event hosted by the I-Center and I-Club that features performances from diverse student groups on campus and Tufts dance teams. Du added that Carmichael Dining Hall surveyed international students at the end of last semester for recipes that it could implement in its dining during the event.