Meet Your IPALs

University of Cincinnati IPALs

The University of Cincinnati IPALs

Bearcats come from all over the world. As a student at UC, your cultural experience can go far beyond the limits of Cincinnati. You may be from or have classmates from China, India and South Korea. You can go to international events around campus. And you’ve also got IPALs—International Partners and Leaders—to help you find your place in UC’s diverse community.

The IPALs are a group of UC students who meet up to share their cultures and make new friends. Both domestic and international Bearcats are welcome to join in. They hang out in room 709 of Swift Hall from 4-5 p.m. every Monday-Thursday, just chatting and playing games. But they also like to get out and have fun with camping trips, potlucks and soccer tournaments.

Meet some of the IPALs as they share who they are, how they got involved, and why they love being part of this group. 

IPAL Mohammad Sarim

Mohammad Sarim

Mohammad Sarim

From: New Delhi, India
Studying: PhD in Mechanical Engineering
Why he became an IPAL: I got involved with IPALs in fall 2015, when I joined UC. I didn’t know anybody. The IPALs desk was the only place where I could actually see new faces and make friends. I became a regular visitor and was inducted as an IPAL in spring 2016.
How IPALs has impacted him: IPALs has helped me make new friends from all around the world. I find it very exciting to meet people from international places. Almost every other day I get questions from students, new and current, about something related to on-campus life: where to eat, where to go, how to go, etc. It is my pleasure to help those students adjust to a culture which could be completely different from their own. 

IPALs upcoming events

November 10-11: International Student Retreat (sold out)
November 26: Home for the Holidays

For additional information about events or general questions, contact

What IPALs offers to students: The most important opportunity IPALs presents is making connections. Once a student gets involved with IPALs, they have a lot of resources for finding answers to any questions they have related to anything. We also serve as a cultural connection between UC International and the international students. We help adapt new students into the diverse culture of the U.S. Any student can come to us with any question or concern, just to hang out, play games, anything, and we are always there for them.
Favorite IPALs experience: My favorite experience is the international student retreat that IPALs organizes every semester. It is the most popular event, and the tickets sell out within days. The winter retreat will be in February, and we encourage students to get tickets as soon as the lines open. However, almost every event by IPALs is instant fun and completely refreshing while learning about new cultures. 

IPAL Abby Listerman

Abby Listerman

Abby Listerman

From: Edgewood, Kentucky
Studying: BA in Communication and Public Relations
Why she became an IPAL: I wanted to get involved because I just love hearing other people's stories. It is my "thing,” I guess. I'm especially interested in the stories of those from different countries and cultures, which is what lead me to study abroad twice, work at UC International, and eventually to being an IPAL.
How IPALs has impacted her: IPALs has completely opened my world view. It has made me think of almost everything I do and say in a different way, how there are so many other stories in the world, and how my story fits into theirs. I have made some of the most genuine friends through IPALs, with both IPALs and international students. I have also had the opportunity to really grow as a leader and figure out what I want to do with my future.
What IPALs offers to students: We are a steady resource and a safe space. Because we are a solid group of students who have agreed to be a part of this for the long haul, it sets up systematic change on campus for resources for international students. Instead of being volunteers that change each event, we are familiar faces. It creates genuine friendships and a steady resource of students who can connect international students to UC, Cincinnati and the International Office.
Favorite IPALs experience: My favorite experience was the winter retreat last year! We took a bunch of international students to Camp Higher Ground in Indiana for an overnight retreat, including nighttime tubing at Perfect North. I met so many people and made so many friends. It was amazing to see people arrive shy with only a few friends and leave with a ton of friends and connections. 

IPAL Vaidhyanathan Sabesan

Vaidhyanathan Sabesan

Vaidhyanathan Sabesan

From: Chennai, India
Studying: Master’s in Mechanical Engineering
Why he became an IPAL: In my initial six months at UC, I attended the events organized by the IPALs as a participant. USA is a country where many cultures co-exist, and I was interested in knowing more about them. The IPALs helped me ease into the cultural transition of living in the USA during our interactions at the IPALs desk, especially with phrases and food options that were alien to me. This helped me develop lasting friendships with the domestic students in general, as we had common ground to start a conversation. Also, the IPALs often encouraged us to talk about our home country and culture, and who doesn't like that!
How IPALs has impacted him: The IPALs program helped me understand the interests and common topics of conversation among domestic students. Meeting other international students through IPALs enriched my knowledge of other cultures in the world. 
What IPALs offers to students: From an international student’s point of view, it is a single-point resource to ask anything about American culture. I try to be proactive in organizing events and meet-ups that help international students mingle with domestic students.
Favorite IPALs experience: The fall '15 retreat was a game changer, as I got to talk to people from so many different countries and cultural backgrounds. 

Written by Dakota Wright, Graduate Assistant to the Graduate School Office