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Ohio State program aims to give students a safe place to talk

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Though some international students said they tend to seek support from their friends or family members back home for help if they have problems, a new Ohio State program aims to provide a stateside space for the students to get support.

The program, called “Let’s Talk,” was created by OSU’s Counseling and Consultation Services and started this semester, said Shivaun Nafsu, the program’s coordinator.

Nafsu said the main purpose of the program is to listen to students’ concerns and provide them with resources to help solve their problems.

“They can have the chance to speak to a (counselor), receive support, (immediate) problem solving, resources, so we can help them link with other resources on campus, so that may be helpful for (international students) or also the large community as well,” Nafsu said. “The idea behind the program was how do we (CCS) get out (into the) campus community and (reach) students who do not normally seek services at (CCS).”

There were more than 6,000 international students enrolled at Columbus this past fall, out of about 57,500 students enrolled at all levels, according to the student enrollment report.

Yunhao Huang, a first-year in financial math from China, said he often looks to home when he needs help.

“I usually talk with my friends from high school when I have problems,” Huang said.

Huang said he feels his friends from high school understand his problems better because of their similar cultural backgrounds.

Nafsu said, though, the Let’s Talk program provides an opportunity for international students to eliminate the cultural gap.

“We recognize that our services (thus) far happened are (under utilized) by international students,” Nafsu said. “So we decided that we really want to do some outreach and make our services more available.”

Nafsu said the program is different than OSU’s traditional consulting services. While traditional consultations take 45 to 50 minutes in general, Let’s Talk appointments are more informal and last about 20 to 40 minutes, Nafsu said. Students can come in to the Office of International Affairs in Oxley Hall between 1 to 3 p.m. on Mondays without an appointment to participate in the program. It is open to all currently enrolled OSU students, according to its website.

Let’s Talk consultations are also free, with no limitation on the number of visits a student can make, Nafsu said.

According to the Let’s Talk website, the conversations are confidential, outside of situations where there appears to be a threat to the student or others.

Hongyin Wang, a first-year in pre-business from China, said the fear of a language barrier prevents her from going to counseling.

“Sometimes if American roommates tells a story in their life, I would be a little bit confused, because there are so many daily words for me to listen to, and I focus on my (studies) so much, so academic (words are) much easier for me to understand,” Wang said.

Nafsu said language barriers shouldn’t be a problem because the program aims to attend to those concerns.

“A part of this program is students (are) going to be (coming) in and telling me what they need in their words. And so we are going to be (attending) to that,” Nafsu said. “My job … is to meet students where they are (at), even if regardless of students coming in and they are (concerned) about the language barrier.”

Some international students, though, said they wouldn’t want to go to Let’s Talk.

“I do not talk with my friend, so I would not talk with some people I don’t know or some strangers, even though I know they are psychological (professionals),” said Yaoyun Zhang, a first-year in financial math from China.

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