Spring Break and Activities!

Hi everyone! I’m Zhen and I’m the Activities Coordinator at the Intensive English Institute (IEI) at the UMaine! Now that UMaine has upgraded its website to WordPress, I want to make this the digital home of IEI’s activities! After moving from a plain email list to Google Groups to Facebook and Instagram to MailChimp, Mailerlite, and Google Forms, it’ll be nice to have a more permanent and accessible place to continue to immerse ourselves in Maine and American culture!

I’m going to use Posts to document what I’m working on and thinking about in relation to my job. I am of Chinese decent and grew up in a mandarin-speaking, Chinese household – celebrating Chinese holidays, eating Chinese food, and being instilled with Chinese morals in an American-context. For me, it was a long journey coming to terms with and understanding who I was and with whom I identified. As such, I empathize greatly with the international students in the IEI, UMaine, and all around the world. Though what I do here is relatively simple, I strive to make an oversized impact on the experience of our students!

It is currently three days into our two week Spring Break! Today has been an exploratory day focused on understanding how WordPress works and revising the plan for Spring B Activities. I’m trying to integrate WordPress into my workflow as much as possible and try to make everything I do more available. In terms of Activity Sign-Ups, it doesn’t really make any part of my life easier. Google Forms is pretty much better than WordPress Forms in every way except that anyone can access a webpage easily and it is isn’t “umaine.edu”. I don’t know.

I also have been working on revamping the Activities Webpage. I want to make it more dynamic and modern – more alive. Mainly, this will be for potential students and agents, but I also think I can make this more useful for current students with links to resources. For international students, language is of course a big barrier, but the way we as Americans handle information is different than most places in the world. I really, deeply trust things that are online. For example, the US Visa applications are now readily available online, but middle men who help people fill out those applications are still getting lots of business. The visa app is a classical, slow US bureaucratic process that is super unnerving for say Chinese people that never wait have to wait more than 10 minutes for food at most restaurants.

I was looking for webpages for inspiration (USM, BMW, the Verge), but I think I’m just going to base it off of the basic UMaine page since that’s what the theme was built for. It does support gifs so I want to cut up some of our videos maybe like the USM website.

This was kind of awkward to write – maybe it was just because we are on break right now. As we start the session up and I deal with student issues, this will be more useful.

Publishing before I think too much about it.