Bike partnership offers international students a welcoming introduction to college

Photo by Ammen Jordan

A local TV photographer interviews Victor Onwukwe about his bike.

Victor Onwukwe’s grandfather rode a bicycle he called the “great white horse” and lived to be 120 years old. Onwukwe is one of 20 qualified U of A international students who recently received a bicycle, helmet and lock thanks to a new partnership between the U of A Office for Sustainability and Pedal It Forward, a regional organization in nonprofit that refurbishes used bicycles. for community members.

For Onwukwe, this free bike reminds him with nostalgia of his late grandfather.

“The bike will kind of help me easily get anywhere I want to go, unless it’s too far,” said Onwukwe, a graduate student from Nigeria studying food science. “I really like the bike. I’m going to use it to ride the trails we have here every morning, to strengthen my bones and get in shape. I’m seriously excited!

The Office for Sustainability and the U of A Office of International Students and Scholars have identified 20 international students who need a bike to get around while living and studying in Fayetteville this semester. These students received a bike at the UARK Bike Block Party on September 2.

“Pedal It Forward is thrilled to provide reliable transportation for this group of international students and looks forward to creating access to bikes for many more students over the next few years,” said Kenny Williams, Program Director of Pedal It. Forward. “If you have a bike you’d like to donate to the effort, please reach out and stay tuned for more about our fall bike donation campaign.”

Namiko Bagirimvano, Deputy Director of International Retention Programs at the Office of International Students and Scholars, added, “We are very excited and grateful for this partnership to welcome our new international students in such a unique way. This program not only helps our newly arrived international students have immediate on-campus transportation, but also introduces them to the growing cycling culture in the NWA. Some students come from countries where cycling is an integral part of their cultural experience.

Part of the Graduate School and International Education, the Office of International Students and Scholars strives to create an engaging campus life by offering international education seminars, cross-cultural training, cultural immersions, and country-specific workshops. They provide opportunities to encourage campus and community involvement through the international culture team, iFriend, cross-cultural mentors, and other cultural organizations.

Logistical support was provided by University Recreation.

“University Recreation Outdoors Bike Shop is thrilled to help Pedal It Forward, OFS and ISS bring the bikes to the block party,” said Kat Miller, UREC Outdoors Coordinator. “Such campus partnerships are critical to the overall success of our students, and the UREC Outdoors Bike Shop will be able to assist these students with future bike maintenance and service needs.”

Pedal It Forward will continue to work with the Office for Sustainability to identify other campus partners and students who may need a bike while studying. The goal of this ongoing partnership is to encourage more environmentally friendly transportation options while reducing any financial barriers that may exist between students and the opportunity to ride a bike.

About the Office for Sustainability: The mission of the University of Arkansas Office for Sustainability is to motivate, facilitate, and coordinate responsible practices through partnerships with students, faculty, and staff from all campus departments. OFS uses the campus as a living laboratory by overseeing the implementation of the University of Arkansas’ environmental goals. These programs are part of the UA Resilience Centerhosted by the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Designand are supported by UA Facility Management.

About Pedal Forward: Pedal It Forward collects used bikes, repairs them, then distributes them to those who need them through our more than 60 Pedal partners. We serve rural and urban low-income children, adults and families, at-risk youth, minority and immigrant populations in Northwest Arkansas. Our mission is to increase the number of people who have access to bicycles for health, transportation or recreation.

About University Recreation: The mission of University recreation (UREC) is to empower students to succeed through recreation and well-being. UREC serves the University community by offering a diverse selection of programs, events and facilities through aquatic recreation, club sports, intramural, fitness and wellness, informal, outdoor and inclusive.

About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas’ flagship institution, the U of A offers an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion for Arkansas’ economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and employment development, discovery through research and creative activity while providing training in professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation ranks the U of A among the top 3% of colleges and universities in the United States with the highest level of research activity. US News and World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. Find out how the U of A is working to build a better world in Arkansas Research News.

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