Updated: May 5
By Brandon Selistyo, GSU student contributor
Students from across the globe have come to study in the Atlanta area. For some, being thousands of miles away from home in a foreign land can be daunting, especially with no friends. However, through Atlanta Ministry with International Students (AMIS), Kumar Shivam has had a different experience.
Shivam is an international student from India and is currently a Georgia State graduate student pursuing his master's in computer information systems. Since attending his first AMIS event nine months ago, he has been a frequent participant.
“Being an international student in a very, very far-off foreign land, I think, is very challenging,” said Shivam. “It can get, at times, lonely and intimidating, but AMIS provides a platform to get to know other fellow international students.”
Atlanta Ministries with International Students or AMIS, pronounced “AH-MEE,” is the French word for friends. It is an organization that promotes cultural and global understanding through friendship and hospitality with international students and scholars in the greater Atlanta area. Through programs and events, they connect students with local American friends.
Shivam discovered AMIS in August of 2021 in an international student orientation event hosted by the university’s International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS). At one of the information tables, he met Reverend Irene Wong, the director of AMIS, who Photo of Shivam introduced and invited him to the organization.
Since then, Shivam’s last nine months have been enriching. He has attended many AMIS events, such as a firepit s’mores night, virtual events, and even a day gardening with AMIS, where participants learn from a master gardener hands-on how to care for a garden.
On holidays such as Halloween, Christmas, and Thanksgiving, party and dinner events occur, usually taking place at a volunteer's home.
Photos of Shivam attending different AMIS events
“I’ve been meeting with more people whom I met through AMIS,” said Shivam. “And it’s a great experience.”
Shivam exchanged contact information and became good friends with domestic and international students upon meeting them at events. To Shivam, it’s also about nurturing the friendships created even after the event is over. Shivam got to know many other international students' different cultures, food, places, etc.
“These things truly enable me to understand and learn more about American culture,” said Shivam. “It brought me closer to American college culture and all other international friends.”
Along with events, Shivam registered to be in the AMIS “Amigo” (Spanish word for “friend”) friendship program where international students are matched up with an Atlanta family or individual to meet and welcome them to the area.
Shivam matched with an “Amigo,” and he had brunch with him and visited places in Atlanta.
These programs and events created by AMIS were very encouraging to Shivam, and he has not looked back since. It is why he has associated himself with the organization since the beginning.
Shivam gives credit and his thanks to Reverend Wong, all AMIS volunteers, naming Miguel, Peter, Susan, and the programs committees as they tirelessly put their efforts into promoting cultural understanding.
“The organization respects the cultural background traditions of all participants without any discrimination,” said Shivam. “It inculcates the welcoming nature of the AMIS program.”
He recommends all international students to join AMIS as it provides a platform and opportunity for them to find some common ground to start conversations and make new friends while exploring the city.
He explained that while AMIS means the French word for friends, it symbolizes harmony, peace and cultural diversity.
“I’ve met people from all over the world,” said Shivam. “I met someone from China, from France, Chile, Venezuela, Canada, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and of course, American friends.”