Penngagement International Experience (PIE) Series

Enhancing Well-Being and Success in the US

Co-sponsored by ISSS, Counseling and Pscyhological Services,& GAPSA

Penngagement International Experience (PIE) Series is a year-round prevention and outreach program tailored for international students and those who have international experiences or are interested in international students’ experiences. It intends to provide these students with a welcoming and supportive platform where they can:

  • Become familiar with campus resources 

  • Interact and develop a relationship with fellow students, staff, and administrators

  • Learn important information and develop useful skills leading to success

  • Experience a sense of belonging and community.

Discuss important topics, make connections, and enjoy free food!

Networking and Interview Strategies (Career Services)

Jan. 19: 3pm-4:30pm

Please join us for a discussion of interview do's and don'ts, specifically as they relate to international students. This session will outline key strategies on how to prepare for an interview and ways to stand out on an initial interview and in subsequent rounds. We will discuss how networking fits into an effective job search and where to begin. You will see a demonstration of QuakerNet, LinkedIn and learn proper etiquette for reaching out to alumni. Don't miss this informative and helpful program!


Oops! Avoiding Social Mistakes in the U.S. (ISSS)

Feb. 2: 12:30 - 2:00pm

This engaging and fun workshop will prepare you for your new social life here at Penn. Learn common U.S. cultural norms and expectations in a variety of different situations to avoid an "oops!" moment. Dr. Rudie Altamirano, Director of ISSS, a professional in the area of cross-cultural communication offers his insight and experience in adjusting to the social landscape of the U.S.


Navigating Interpersonal Relationships in the U.S. (Penn Women’s Center)

Feb. 16: 3pm-4:30pm

Join us for a student panel and discussion about how to navigate relationships in the United States! The event will begin with a panel discussion featuring student leaders on campus who will discuss their experiences learning about and providing education around dating and relationships norms here on campus. Following the panel, students will have a chance to discuss with one another any questions or ideas they have about beginning to navigate relationships during their time in the United States.


LGBTQ in America: Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity (LGBT Center)

Mar. 16: 3pm-4:30pm

What do LGBTQ issues look like in the U.S.?  What is it like being LGBTQ and an international student at Penn?  How can you be an ally?  Join us for an interactive conversation around these issues and more.


Religion and Spirituality Diversity (Office of the Chaplain, Student Groups)

Apil 6: 3pm-4:30pm

Religion and Spirituality can be an important part of an international student’s life at Penn. Join University Chaplain Charles Howard and student leaders to learn more about what Penn offers to students of different faiths and worldviews. Students will have opportunities to ask questions and engage in dialogue with the speakers.


End-of-Year Celebration: Food, Fun, and Friends (CAPS, ISSS, GAPSA, AIS)

Apr. 16: 12 - 1:30pm

Join the Penn community in celebrating its diverse and global campus with lots of dessert pies and pizza! We want all to know that Penn is an inclusive university that is stronger in its diversity. Take the time to enjoy food and friends before the end of the semester


Safety and Security at Penn & It's On Us: Recognizing and Responding to Harmful Behavior

August 21, 9:30am - 10:50am 

by Division of Public SafetyPenn Violence PreventionSexual Violence Investigative Officer

PART 1: Safety and Security at Penn How do you stay safe in an open, urban, multicultural and densely-populated university environment such as Penn? Join members of the Special Services Department as we describe how the Division of Public Safety (DPS) ensures the safety and enhances the quality of life of the Penn Community.

PART 2: It's On Us: Recognizing and Responding to Harmful Behavior Then join an interactive conversation about how Penn defines sexual violence, relationship violence, and stalking. We will explore how these issues impact college communities and learn about the rights and resources for students who experience them.


Managing Cross-Cultural Adjustment in the U.S. 

September 8, 3pm - 4:30pm 

by Counseling and Psychological Services

Living in a new culture can be both exciting and challenging. There are many things that international students need to adjust to during their stay at Penn. Want to ensure maintaining your mental wellness, achieving academic successes, and developing meaningful relationships? Join representatives from the Counseling and Psychological Services to gain knowledge and skills to manage your cross-cultural transitions more effectively. 


Small Talk and Social Interactions in the U.S.

September 22, 3pm - 4:30pm

by Graduate Student Center

Want to build your conversation and communication skills? Join representatives from the Graduate Student Center to learn more about how to make small talk and effectively communicate in informal, social situations. We will also give you more information about getting involved on campus!


Thriving in a US Classroom

October 13, 3pm - 4:30pm 

by Weingarten Learning Resources Center

Location: Community Room, Counseling and Psychological Services, 3624 Market 1st Floor

How’s your semester going? Have questions about how to be successful in your studies? Join representatives from the Weingarten Learning Resources Center to learn more about managing your time, writing papers, reading effectively and other strategies relevant to your academic life at Penn.


Expert Panel Discussion: Language Issues, Professor Expectations, Academic Integrity 

October 27, 3pm - 4:30pm 


  • Dr. Betsy Rymes, Chair of Educational Linguistics Division, GSE
  • Dr. Boon Thau Loo, Masters Chair of Computer & Information Science Division, SEAS
  • Marcia Glickman, Deputy Director, Office of Student Conduct

Are you concerned about your English in the classroom? Are you unsure what your professor is expecting of you and your classwork? Hear from a panel of professors and Office of Student Conduct staff about ways international students can increase their understanding of the Penn classroom and academic expectations. Students will also walk away with strategies to improve their academic performance. 


Relax More, Stress Less (SHS/Campus Health)

November 17, 3pm - 4:30pm

by Student Health Service

In this workshop, you will learn easy, mindful strategies for identifying and reducing stress in the body and the mind. 

Through discussion, and by participation in a guided meditation, you will be invited to connect with your senses, relax, and treat yourself with compassion and kindness. No experience with meditation is necessary.

Yuhong He - Dr. Yuhong He is an International Specialist and a Psychologist at Penn’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). She was born and grew up in China. She came to the U.S. to pursue advanced training in counseling psychology and thus has personal experiences of adjusting to U.S. culture and education system. She has worked extensively with international students through career counseling, psychotherapy, crisis intervention, consultation, outreach, mentoring, teaching, and research for over 10 years. At Penn, she is in charge of outreach and prevention programs to maintain and improve international students’ mental wellness at CAPS. She speaks Mandarin, Cantonese, and Hakka.

Rodolfo “Rudie” Altamirano - Dr. Altamirano is the Director of International Student and Scholar Services at the University of Pennsylvania. His main responsibility is to provide overall leadership in determining and implementing organizational and campus-wide strategies including the delivery of quality services and programs to international students, scholars, faculty, staff, exchange visitors and community members. Dr. Altamirano has a doctoral degree in International Resource Development with a major in Cross-Cultural Communication. With the support of a high performing ISSS team, he has spearheaded high-level strategic initiatives for ISSS that resulted in streamlined business processes and efficient operations. He designed conceptualized, implemented, facilitated and coordinated very successful cross-cultural and academic programs. He has presented and conducted more than 300 immigration, cross-cultural communication and conflict resolution workshops, nationally and internationally, and has won accolades and awards for his presentations, including back to back “Best of Conference” Presentations.

Ryan Villanueva - Ryan Villanueva is the Program Coordinator for International Student and Scholar Services. Ryan develops and implements programs to help international students adjust to their new environment and succeed in and out of the classroom at Penn. Ryan’s global travels have taken him from the southern tip of Chile to the western province of China. He enjoys the exchanging of perspectives and ideas across cultures and is dedicated to assisting to students integrate into the Penn community and experience what Penn and Philadelphia have to offer. Ryan received a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from James Madison University and a bachelor’s in Spanish Language from Virginia Commonwealth University. He studied abroad in China in 2007.

  • Effective planning and time management

  • Interpersonal conflicts and resolution

  • Perfectionism

  • Job/internship search

  • Stress management

  • Managing procrastination

  • End of semester Happy Hour

  • Getting started at Penn: Adjustment and Culture Shock

  • Making friends with Americans at Penn  

  • Living away from home: Healthy coping and managing family's expectations 

  • Managing relationships with advisors / professors / supervisors 

  • Career development and job/internship search 

  • Wellness: What every international student should know 

  • Sex, romantic relationships and dating

CAPS offers freeconfidential, professional mental health services to Penn undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Our goal is to help students adjust to University life and support them in connecting to Penn’s academic and social environment. Our culturally-affirming staff works with students across many issues, including, but not limited to: making cross-cultural transitions, coping with academic stress and relationship difficulties, clarifying career interests and making career decisions, exploring sexuality and gender identity, and managing anxiety and depression. At CAPS, students can learn to address personal problems and situational crises effectively, develop self-awareness, personal responsibility, and skills for life-long learning. We are located at 3624 Market Street, open from 9-5pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays, and 9-7pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays.