Small Steps Makes Iowa City More Welcoming for International Residents

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Small steps go a long way to make a community more welcoming. ICAD Group's International Task Force recently announced the availability of Mandarin Chinese as a language option on ATMs.

ICAD Group provides workforce development services for the greater Iowa City area, including international welcoming projects.

These basic resources serve as a gateway to our welcoming and diverse community, which is one of reasons that some international students choose to study at University of Iowa and fall in love with Iowa City. - Suyun Ma

Building upon its designation as an “International Welcoming City” last March, Iowa City officials and businesses continue to improve their offerings for immigrants and international students who now call Iowa City “home.”

Kate Moreland, director of collaboration and community relations at the Iowa City Area Development Group, says an ICAD Group led task force has been working on projects aimed at improving communication with the international community.

“Translation is always an area of focus and we continue to work with local entities on how to better reach out to our international community and be more welcoming,” said Moreland. “This includes translating the Convention and Visitor Bureau’s welcome guide into multiple languages and working with area banks to add Chinese to their ATMs.”

Most recently, Hills Bank became the first area bank to offer Mandarin Chinese as an ATM language option.

“We have been long time supporters of the International Community and we were pleased to have been able to work with the Shazam network to incorporate multiple languages into our ATM network,” said Marty Maiers, Senior Vice President and Director of Retail Banking for Hills Bank. “We updated the ATM in the lobby of our Old Capitol Town Center location in mid-December and will install Mandarin Chinese on other ATMs campus wide as part of software upgrades.”

Suyun Ma, Global External Relations Coordinator for International Programs at the University of Iowa, sits on the International Relations task force at ICAD Group and says these accommodations help new, international students adapt to a new life during their not-so-easy transitional period.

“I have been in their shoes. Immersed in a totally different culture and language, most new international students feel overwhelmed and even scared at some point,” said Ma. “I appreciate the importance of having this kind of convenience and assistance in local ATMs.”

Ties will continue to strengthen between the public and private sector, the university, and the international community as more projects come online.

Tom Markus, City Manager for Iowa City, says the task force is looking next at improving housing and international relations. “We’ve started communications with the university about how to improve temporary and permanent housing options for new international students who arrive on campus,” said Markus. “Also, there is initial discussion on developing an ambassador program to help students, visitors and new residents navigate our community and share in our culture.”

“These basic resources serve as a gateway to our welcoming and diverse community, which is one of reasons that some international students choose to study at University of Iowa and fall in love with the city,” added Ma.

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Eric Hanson
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