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h [electronic resource] /
interviewed by Andrew Huse.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (35 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 expanded summary (digital, PDF file)
USF 50th (2006) anniversary oral history project
Interview conducted May 25, 2004.
Roland Grenouillou discusses his involvement with Friends of Internationals, an organization started at USF to assist international students that has spread to various other states. Grenouillou has been at USF since 2003.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
University of South Florida.
Huse, Andrew T.
University of South Florida Libraries.
Florida Studies Center.
Oral History Program.
University of South Florida.
y CLICK HERE TO ACCESS DIGITAL AUDIO AND EXPANDED SUMMARY
COPYRIGHT NOTICE This Oral History is copyrighted by the University of South Florida Libraries Oral History Program on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of South Florida. Copyright, 200 8 University of South Florida. All rights, reserved. T his oral history may be used for research, instruction, and private study under the provisions of the Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of the United States Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section 107), which allows limited use of copyrighted materials under certain conditions. Fair Use limits the amount of material that may be used. For all other permissions and requests, contact the UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA LIBRARIES ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at the University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Avenue, LIB 122, Tampa, FL 33620.
1 USF Florida Studies Center Oral History Program USF 50 th History Anniversary Project Narrator: Roland Grenouillou Interviewer: Andrew Huse Current Position: USF Friends of Location of Interview: Tampa Internationals Campus Library D ate of Interview: May 25, 2004 Abstractor: Jared G. Toney Editor: Mary E. Yeary Date of Abstract: Oct. 22, 2004 Date of Edit: Oct. 22, 2004 Final Editor: Jared G. Toney TOPICS OF DISCUSSION Mr. Grenouillou came to USF in August 2003. Experien ces prior to USF Before coming to USF, Mr. Grenouillou was working in Venezuela with exchange students, not unlike the work he does at South Florida. He returned to the United States in 2001, and, after spending some time in Virginia, was referred to a pos ition at USF through contacts at his alma mater, the University of Miami. After attending an annual Friends of Internationals conference in Chicago in May 2003, he made the decision to move to USF. Friends of Internationals Friends of Internationals was begun in 1998 at the University of South Florida, where it is currently based. The founders' intent in creating the organization was to provide services for international students who were not receiving a lot of assistance otherwise. It has now spread to s ix different cities throughout the state of Florida with plans to expand nationwide over the next several years. Mr. Grenouillou was recruited by the founder of the organization, who was responsible for bringing him to South Florida where most of the work is done for the international students. "But it's not just myself. There are many many people throughout the community ... who just have a heart for these people and who are getting involved." Background Mr. Grenouillou was born in Raleigh, North Carolina and moved with his family to Virginia where he lived from the age of two until the age of seventeen or eighteen. He was fortunate to receive a scholarship to the University of Miami after graduating from high school, where he earned his degree four years later. Exposure to foreign peoples and cultures Mr. Grenouillou remembers that until he moved to Miami, he had never met people from other countries. "I grew up in a place where ... you were either white or black, and most of my friends were actually bl ack, so I think that even prepared me because I was a minority myself, and so it led me to understand ... different cultures." When he moved to
2 Miami for college, he recalls interacting with people "from all over the world and they became my friends ... and I had a special heart for them." Being a Christian, he also particularly appreciates the opportunity to serve others in that capacity. "Everyone is made, I believe, in the image of God, and to be able to help them in any way that I can ... so that's wh at started [it]." After graduation Though he had been hired to work for Arthur Anderson consulting after his graduation from college, his personal beliefs and passions led him to become involved in working with international students overseas. "That's bee n the path, you might say, that I've chosen for now." Christianity on a college campus The Friends of Internationals occupy an office in the Baptist Student Organization's building. Not only does Mr. Grenouillou share a physical space with the Baptist s tudents, but also a similar philosophy. "All people are made in the image of God ... we treat them that way." Organization's services Among the organization's services, they provide such things as donated used furniture to international students who have very little of their own to speak of. Additionally, they often serve as an international student's first point of contact upon their arrival in the United States. They will also pair the students up with local families in order to ease their transition in to a new and unfamiliar environment. "I believe that's one of [our] best services ... because it spreads the work [out] ... to involve the community." They are looking to expand their programs in the coming years to include language classes for all univers ity students. Activities and events The organization also works to get international students involved in various activities and events in the local community. In recent years, they have gone to the Kennedy Space Center, Walt Disney World, Busch Gardens, Lowry Park Zoo, USF football games, and local beaches as well as an annual international retreat that is held in different locations throughout Florida. Occasionally, the organization invites speakers to talk with students on such subjects as culture shoc k and finding a job after graduation. Apartments and vehicles for international students The Friends of Internationals also provide access to apartments and vehicles for students who are staying on a short term basis and cannot commit to long term leases or financial obligations. Relationship with the Baptist Student Organization Though the Friends of Internationals are not linked directly to the Baptist Student Organization, they are a "general Christian organization," and have become more involved wit h the Baptist students over the years. "We appreciate what they've done. It is a good working relationship ... [We] want to show Christ's love to these students."
3 Christian international students at USF Of the 2,500 international students at USF, Mr. Gren ouillou estimates that approximately five percent are committed Christians. Plans for Friends of Internationals In addition to organizational expansion, they plan to continue working on campus in conjunction with other student groups in order to more eff ectively and comprehensively reach out to and provide services for students. "Plans? Keep doing the same, but expanding and getting others involved. That's how we see our work." Sports Because cricket is a popular sport among international students, the Friends in conjunction with the Students of India Association plan to hold clinics in order to introduce university students to the games. They are also involved in soccer and football tournaments. Cultural awareness The organization also emphasizes cul tural awareness among students. For instance, they have held potluck dinners where each student brings in a dish from his/her native country. They have also hosted parties celebrating the Chinese New Year. "Christianity is the mold, you might say, that hol ds it together for us ... The thing is that they are shown that they are accepted [and] that we do want them to come here." Personal benefits "The work that I have done with students from other countries ... has forever changed me," Mr. Grenouillou commen ts. "People don't see as us' and them,' people see as us.' We are all the same. We may look different, but deep down ... we all have the same needs: physical, emotional, intellectual ... and spiritual as well." Student involvement Of the 2,500 internat ional students at USF, Mr. Grenouillou believes that his organization is in contact with nearly 700 of them, more than doubling their past efforts. Religious services If students are interested in attending religious services of any kind, Mr. Grenouillou welcomes them either to attend with him or he will gladly put them in contact with representatives of other organizations. End of Interview (please see text below)
4 Mission Statement, Friends of Internationals: (http://www.internationals.org/03/03 staff.php) We are committed to helping international students adjust to their new setting, enjoy their time in the United States and help them meet and understand North American Christians. We do this through promoting open dialogue and discussion that re sults in psychological stability, spiritual transformation and lifelong friendships. Our Role: We hope to fulfill our mission by doing the following: 1. Offering and arranging friendships with North Americans for students. 2. Securing free airport transportation. 3. Conducting free conversational English Sp anish and German classes. 4. Providing household and personal items for students, i.e.: bikes, microwaves, beds, desks, etc. 5. Sponsoring retreats and trips. 6. Holding group Bible studies. 7. Organizing and sponsoring parties and activities. Friends of Internationals actively seeks to treat all Christian and Non Christian international students with respect, dignity, assistance and honor. We will never forsak e helping a student based on their gender, ethnic background or religious identification.