Covid-19 Response

International Oasis Provides Emergency Student Support

International Oasis helped Oakland University international students during the pandemic.

Two people wearing masks, standing in a parking lot.

International Oasis President James Abraham helped OU international students meet financial needs during the beginning of the COVID-19 shutdown.

Four people in front of an open car trunk.

OU international students made and distributed health kits containing masks, gloves and disinfecting wipes.

Two women sitting with masks in front of them.

OU master’s degree candidate Sumeet Sidhu and her mother Beant sew face masks to give to frontline health care workers temporarily housed in Oakland University’s dorm.

Community Engagement

icon of a calendarJune 11, 2020

icon of a pencilBy Catherine Ticer

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Through the generosity of International Oasis, four Oakland University international students have received the assistance they need to get through a financially difficult time.

“When International Oasis learned that several of our international students were struggling with expenses, they rushed in to help,” says Petra Knoche, an international adviser with OU’s International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO). Funds were distributed to the students to cover emergency expenses such as car repairs, car insurance and rent.

Formed in 2015 to support OU students and inspire them to take a leadership role in meeting the needs of poor and vulnerable populations around the world, International Oasis has served as a dedicated partner to OU’s international community.

The organization routinely supports international students by providing airport pick-up, orientation assistance, welcome lunches and dinners, conversation partner match-up for English enrichment, retreats and trips to sporting and cultural events. They also expose the students to American traditions to help them experience American culture outside of the classroom.

James Abraham, International Oasis president and former international student, uses his personal experiences to create meaningful opportunities for today’s international students.

“Since some of our board members or their family members were once international students themselves, we understand the value of giving back to the international community,” says Abraham. “We can make our world a better place by helping one international student at a time.”

The organization operates under the belief that international students have a unique opportunity to promote understanding and effect change.

“At International Oasis, we think every student that comes to Oakland University as an international student has the potential to be a world leader. When they are done with their education and return to their countries or stay in the U.S., each of them has the potential to become influential in their government or in the private sector,” says Abraham.

ISSO is grateful for the support International Oasis provides for their students.

“Our students flourish and gain a real sense of belonging under the generous support from International Oasis,” says Knoche. “We are grateful for their commitment to OU’s international community, and our students are most appreciative of their friendship, support and guidance.”

Giving Back to the Community

International students and scholars are deeply committed to giving back to the community, especially now in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

Recently, students, scholars and recent graduates partnered with Connect the Nations, led by director Alexa Lawlor, and OU’s COVID-19 Response Team on efforts to secure food and other essential resources for people in need during the pandemic. Connect the Nations is an organization that provides support and community to local international friends, helping to ensure they build connections and have meaningful experiences while studying in the United States.

Yue Zhou, an OU Ph.D. student serving as ISSO Chinese student ambassador and president of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association, was instrumental in acquiring and directing the distribution efforts of health kits containing masks, gloves and disinfecting wipes for 200 fellow students.

Sumeet Sidhu, a master’s degree candidate living in Windsor, is working alongside her mother, Beant Sidhu, to make face masks. The pair has generously provided 70 masks to frontline health care workers temporarily housed in Oakland University’s dorms.

To learn more about the international learning community at OU, visit

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