Dominic Potori

Dominic PotoriNumber of years at IU
Eleven as full-time staff, thirteen as an employee in some way for the University

Position and brief job description
Senior International Student Advisor: I advise IU’s international student population (long and short-term students from other countries) about immigration and acculturation matters. I also am one of the staff designated by our office to teach practical cross-cultural understanding and competency to staff at the University through Human Resources and other entities.

What brought you to this position?
Many years ago, I studied abroad in Turkey for a semester of my undergraduate career. Upon returning from a wonderful, life-changing time there, I wanted to help more students study in Turkey and other underrepresented countries. Later, after working in my college’s Study Abroad office, I began to also take note of the many students who studied at my school from abroad and wanted to make them feel as welcomed and as much a part of campus as I did when I was in Turkey. I found working with international students to be so rewarding, but also challenging. Each step of the way to the position I hold now I thought: “How would I have wanted this interaction to go if I had to do this in Turkey?” More than ten years later, that is still how I try my best to operate every day.

What are the three best lessons you’ve learned in this position?
First, international students have needs that may not be easy to notice for those of us who were raised in the U.S., and a good lesson I’ve learned is to ask questions that may seem uncomfortable for us to ask but which may be commonplace for students from other cultures.

A second lesson I’ve learned is that not all of the behaviors international students display are products of their cultures – you can’t ever forget that a person’s unique personality factors in heavily into her/his decision-making.

Finally, if you are interacting with someone from another culture, and you aren’t sure what to talk about, ask her/him what her/his hometown’s specialty food is. Food is universal, and so is the desire to brag about how wonderful the coking is where you’re from, so ask away.

What do you like best about your job?
I like that I can be a person students can trust to tell their stories to – if that’s a story of hardship or one seeking understanding, or both – and that the University has made the kind of job that I have critically important to student success. I love being someone that students meet in August of one year, eating ice cream together at the Ice Cream Social, and that throughout their two or four or seven years here they can feel as comfortable talking to me as they did while we ate ice cream that day.

What is your favorite thing about working at IU?
I am always astounded and humbled working for an institution that values international education – both sending domestic students abroad and bringing internationals here – as much as IU does. IU’s commitment to be a force of change to educate the world and to allow the world to educate the students who come here makes me proud to be part of my unit, and the broader University as well. Plus, as an added bonus, I get to meet students from dozens of cultures every week, which is not something everybody can say.