New student group promotes global mindset

The International Student Organization supports foreign students and encourages cultural exchange.

Two students, Satvik Chethan and Jim Appiah, holding several small flags of different nations.
Satvik Chethan (left) and Jim Appiah (right) created the International Student Organization to help students connect with each other and acclimate to life away from their home countries. (Maggie McIntyre ’25/UNC Global Affairs

Two Carolina students from Ghana and India have come together to create the International Student Organization. This new student organization will offer social networking and professional development opportunities to build a stronger international community.

When Jim Appiah, a senior from Ghana studying chemistry, and Satvik Chethan, a junior from India studying business and information science, first came to UNC-Chapel Hill, they struggled to adjust.

Appiah had never left his home country until he came to Chapel Hill and lived off the biscuits and hot chocolate he had packed in his suitcase for the first few days after he arrived.

Chethan had been to the U.S. before but found living here very different from visiting. “The scariest part was, I think, the social aspect. I’m generally a very social person, but when I first came, I would be so wary and be so confused, I didn’t know what I could say or how to approach people and how they would perceive me.”

Both students were overwhelmed by all they had to do upon arrival: opening a bank account, securing a visa, registering for classes, finding housing, getting a SIM card. Their shared experience led Appiah and Chethan to help other international students find their place on campus.

Separately, they brought their ideas for forming an organization to support international students to International Student and Scholar Services. This campus unit handles international student and scholar advising, immigration compliance and support for adjustment to life at Carolina.

Appiah focused on professional development and acclimating international students to the U.S., while Chethan wanted to form a social network and a stronger international community. They fused their ideas, wrote a constitution and got approval as an official student organization. The new International Student Organization is open to all students at Carolina.

“I am delighted by the opportunity for ISSS to collaborate closely with the new International Student Organization,” said Ioana Costant, director of ISSS, which will advise and work closely with the new organization. “This partnership reflects our dedication to fostering a vibrant and inclusive global community on campus.”

“We really just want to create a space for everyone and create a solid system to help people adjust and find a community,” said Appiah. “We are here to create a cohesive environment to bring everybody together and help support each other.”

Chethan and Appiah hope this new organization will provide a meaningful place for students to connect with each other and acclimate to life away from their home countries.

“I want to cement what I’ve started by creating this organization,” Appiah said. “I hope that this mentorship will be sustained, and new international students who come in won’t feel alone.”

Appiah and Chethan want to host student-led cultural potlucks, language exchanges, professional networking events, fashion shows and an annual cultural carnival to celebrate the different cultures of the international community at Carolina. They encourage U.S. students to join to increase cultural exchange and promote a global mindset for everyone on campus.

They have already had a positive reaction from the international community. “I know 100 years from now if these students are asked how their experience was at UNC, I know I’ll definitely be a part of their stories and that is so satisfying to me,” Appiah said.

Carolina students who are interested in joining the new organization can contact Appiah at ajim@ad.unc.edu or Chethan at satvik31@ad.unc.edu.

Read more about the International Student Organization.