Worldwide Terps Group Provides Guidance, Community for International Student-Athletes
Photo by Mackenzie Miles/Maryland Athletics
One of the biggest leaps long jumper Ashley Germain ’23 had to make when she arrived at the University of Maryland from her home in Montreal was clearing the bureaucracy to get a Social Security card.
For golfer Karla Elena Vázquez Setzer ’24, it was the little things—the early timing of meals, the different food—that amplified her culture shock after moving from Tabasco, Mexico.
To navigate the challenges and rewards of living, studying and competing in a new country, they got involved with Worldwide Terps, a group within Maryland Athletics that supports dozens of international student-athletes.
“It’s very valuable knowing that there is a community out there of people that are just like you, in the same spot, where family is very far away, where there is cultural sensitivity and empathy,” said Vázquez Setzer, now president of Worldwide Terps.
Founded in 2018 by Italian women’s golfer Ludovica Farina ’20, the program—which includes Terps from Costa Rica, Jamaica, the Netherlands and beyond—has evolved to include practical guidance and community-building events. On the logistics side, the group created a workbook that lays out the steps to get a Social Security number, Maryland driver’s license and other documents, and it worked with International Students and Scholar Services at career meetups to explore on-campus employment options. This year, Worldwide Terps also partnered with TerpTax, a nonprofit that provides free tax preparation services.
Group events foster a sense of belonging, including welcome parties to kick off the academic year and 2022’s inaugural Thanksgiving dinner, featuring traditional American and international cuisines.
“Internationals, they usually don’t have time to go back home (during the U.S. holiday). ... You’re on campus by yourself because everyone’s with their family, so it can be a little rough,” said Germain, the group’s former president. “Worldwide Terps is like our second family.”
As it grows to include the more than 50 international student-athletes at UMD, members rely on the input of Maryland Made, Maryland Athletics’ student-athlete development unit, which works to empower Terps to become leaders on and off the playing field and make Maryland feel like home.
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