Clayton State University’s newest staff member is Brett Reichert, and he’s in charge of Clayton State’s newest international venture, the International Student Services Office (ISSO).
The function of the ISSO is three-fold: compliance, programming, cultural transition.
“The university reached a point where it needed to centralize these important services in one office, with an eye towards the success and growth of the international population on campus,” explains Reichert, whose title is Associate Director of International Student Services. “I’m currently meeting student and university leaders, learning about Clayton State, and setting up all the functions and forms of the office. That’s a day-by-day process.”
A 1991 graduate of Mercer University with a degree in political science/international affairs; Reichert also holds a Master of Science degree in multicultural and multilingual education from Florida State University. He worked as a communications associate for MARTA from 1994 to 1996, where he was responsible for a number of large-scale communications projects leading up to the agency's role in the 1996 Summer Olympic Transportation Plan.
After graduating from Florida State in 2000, he spent a year in Belgium on a Fulbright Fellowship at the University of Antwerp, teaching and conducting research on the linguistic laws and bias of Belgium. He then returned to Florida State to teach ESL in 2001. He later went to the Samsung Global Training Institute in Seoul, South Korea where he trained senior managers from 30+ Samsung companies on presentation skills, business letter writing, negotiating, as well as cultural topics and customs in U.S. markets. In 2005, he was hired as Director of the ESL Department at Savannah College of Art and Design.
International students legally authorized to enter the U.S. face myriad procedural and regulatory compliance issues, which begin well before they arrive in the U.S., Reichert explains. Once they are here, there are lots of rules and restrictions they need to understand and follow in order to stay “in good status.” The ISSO informs and educates them on those issues from pre-arrival to graduation and beyond.
The programming aspect of ISSO will be developing a series of workshops, events and activities to help integrate and connect international students with the host culture, community and campus. For example, ISSO is already working with Clayton State’s BSM (Baptist Student Ministries) student organization to host a traditional American Thanksgiving feast on Nov. 18 for Clayton State’s international students.
“The idea is to reach out to international students who might feel isolated over the holiday since they can’t be with their own family, and to share this tradition with them,” explains Reichert.
Another way to view the cultural transition role of ISSO is in terms of living issues.
“International students quickly face challenges right after arrival in the U.S. ISSO is here to help,” says Reichert. “Can you imagine functioning in America today with no DL, SS card, bank account, credit card, cell phone, or car? Or, imagine the confusion over how to access and pay for health care. If your focus is to study and learn, all these issues can impact that aim negatively without help in the beginning.”