August 17, 2009 — More than 100 students from 18 countries will begin their University of Virginia careers this week via the UVaExpress, a full-service volunteer transportation and hospitality program.
The program, administered by the University's Office of Engagement, brings international students and their families from Dulles Airport to U.Va.'s Grounds free of charge on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Office of Engagement facilitates and supports alumni and parent relations on behalf of the University through a range of programs and services worldwide.
Darci Spuck, assistant director of regional engagement, said the program provides international students with safe, inexpensive transit and a welcoming introduction to university.
"We are unaware of any program of this scope at our peer institutions," she said.
Now in its third year, the UVaExpress draws on volunteer support of faculty, staff, students and alumni. The local International Host Program also supports the UVaExpress by providing a large number of community volunteers. Volunteer efforts stretch from Washington, D.C., to Charlottesville, with participants stationed to greet students at Dulles and others based in Charlottesville to assist students with moving in.
UVaExpress is underwritten by Gordon Kirtland, UVaClub of Singapore president and UVaFamilies Board Member, who in 2006 brought to the University's attention the difficulty and expense of transportation for arriving international students.
UVaFamilies and the Parents Committee will also support a new welcome dinner for international students and parents on Wednesday at the University's Lorna Sundberg International Center.
The International Studies Office will sponsor a dinner for parents on Friday and a reception on Saturday for students and their families. President and Mrs. Casteen will welcome international students to Carr's Hill on Sept. 1.