International Students & Scholars Program, U.Va.

International Students & Scholars Program

A Division of the International Studies Office


Meet the Global Greeters

Email Mariana or Jackie with any questions, or if you would like to be put in touch with a Global Greeter.


Hi guys! My name is Mariana Forero and I am a fourth year, and excited to be one of the co-chairs of Global Greeters this year.   I am 100% Colombian, very much so like Shakira, however I was born in the US and am an out-of-state student from North Carolina. I am currently undecided on a major but am looking into Global Development Studies (cause I like traveling) and Education (cause I like kids) and Spanish (cause I like sounding like Shakira).On grounds I am involved with Global Student Council and Globemed and I work at the Drama Department box office. I currently live in the International Residential College. Choosing to live in the IRC was definitely the best choice I've made here at UVa which is why I'm living there again my second year! My hobbies include: singing, reading, watching movies, dancing, cooking, painting, listening to music, not going to the gym, looking at cats, being with cats, watching videos of cats, eating, talking, sleeping and learning about different cultures. Can't wait to meet you all! (


Hello hello! My name is Ziqi Wang (or Jackie) and I’m a fourth year from Beijing, China. Along with Mariana, I’m one of the co-chairs of Global Greeters.  I’m a double major in the Comm School and in Art History - I'd love to share that story with you, and would love to help you find your own passion! At UVA, I'm actively involved in the Smart Woman Securities as an amateur investor and I am also in the social entrepreneurship program at HackCville. I have so much to say about college, and I'm really excited that all of you will shortly start your own journeys! Love to get to know you in person - let me be a part of your adventure at UVA! (

Hey, my name is Shannon Harris and I'm a fourth year from Philadelphia. I hope to major in Foreign Affairs and Middle Eastern Studies! I am a member of the Outdoors Club and love to water ski in the summer. I'm also studying French and Arabic and studied abroad last summer in Morocco. My favorite meal is breakfast and my favorite hobby is riding roller coasters at any amusement park I can find. I'm very excited to meet you all and welcome to UVa!   (

I’m Devan and I’m a fourth year. I’ve lived in four states, but I’m from southern Illinois, aka cornfields. I appreciate good coffee, which is a more pleasant way of saying I’m a coffee snob—so if you want to know some of the best coffee places here, please do yourself a favor and ask for my advice. I’m involved in IV, which is a Christian fellowship group, volunteer through Madison House and work at the Fine Arts Library. I like dark chocolate, being outside, hiking, running biking and talking to people. I’m also an active wanderer of the farmers market. Talents include: forgetting to turn the oven off, an inability of getting a tan, making hummus and laughing at the most inconvenient times. (

Hi! My name is Pasuth Thothaveesansuk and I am a third year in the College of Arts and Sciences majoring in Statistics. I’m an international student from Bangkok, Thailand and have attended international school there before coming to UVA. I am currently involved in the Washington Literary Society and Debating Union and the Global Greeters Exec Board. My passions include working with numbers, debate, and being a sports nerd. During my free time, I enjoy watching sports, especially supporting our wonderful student-athletes. Welcome to UVA., I cannot wait to meet you all on Grounds! Go ‘Hoos!  (

Hi everyone! My name is Jessie Nielsen, and I am a third year from Fresno, California. My dad’s job moved my family around a lot, so I spent my childhood in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, and graduated from an international high school in Frankfurt, Germany. Although I plan on taking the required classes to go to medical school, I will hopefully end up majoring in Comparative Literature (in both English and Spanish). I also recently joined Delta Gamma, one of the many sororities on grounds. I love traveling to new places, Harry Potter, and the strawberry pecan salad from Basil on the corner. I love everything about U.V.A., and I can’t imagine enjoying anything more than showing you guys the things that I think make it a wonderful place! (

Hello Everyone! My name is Shaheen Jaisingh and I am currently a 3rd year biology major on the pre dental track. I am an Indian by ethnicity, an American by nationality and I was raised in Accra, Ghana. Around grounds, I am involved in the Pre Dental Society, Adopt-A-Grandparent through Madison House and I am a peer advisor for the OAA. I also love to play the piano and guitar. I am so excited to meet you and to get to know you. Welcome to UVA!  (

I’m Andrew Jacobson, a third year double majoring in Latin American Studies and Studio Art. I grew up in Vienna, Virginia but have spent most of my life abroad. I was born in Korea, but most recently I’ve lived in India, Brazil, and Mexico. I live in the International Residential College, and really enjoy being involved in the international community. I can speak Spanish and Portuguese and I love going to art museums, as well as exploring grounds and the rest of Charlottesville.(


Hey everyone! I'm Chris Chung and I'm a third year PhD in Mathematics. I grew up in Malaysia, did my undergrad at Michigan and my Master's in Australia before coming to UVa. In my limited free time I enjoy swimming, going on hikes and exploring Charlottesville. I've also had a lot of fun participating in events by UVa's own Lorna Sundberg International Center (such as their cooking classes); join us sometime! (

Hello everyone! My name is Nouha Gammar and I hail from Tunis, Tunisia. I am in the French Graduate Program. I enjoy walking around the Grounds and discovering a different good place to read – take a look at the wonderful UVa Gardens. I am really excited to be a Global Greeter and look forward to meet y’all ! Welcome to UVa!  (


Hi, my name is Sasha, and I’m a fourth year international student from Russia. I’m studying Marketing, while also planning to get a minor in Film. I love everything connected to art and sincerely admire everyone who can create it.  Personally, I devote a lot of time to dancing: rehearse on my own, take classes and actively participate in Salsa Club. My second biggest passion is travelling and exploring different cultures. The international orientation week was one of the best times in UVA for me, as you kept meeting people from around the world all the time. Fortunately, I live in IRC, so I still get to interact with international students every day. All in all, I just can’t sit in one place, when there is so much around to do and explore in UVA. I hope you will also find something that will excite you here, welcome to UVA!"   (

"Hello everyone! My name is Chen Cui and I'm a fourth year from Shenzhen, a city in mainland China that's very close to Hong Kong. I'm a Comm student and possibly doing math major as well. I have lived in International Residential College for my first year and chose to stay there during my second year since I love the international community in IRC a lot. In my opinion, it's probably the most diverse residential area on Grounds. I'm also involved in multiple UVa clubs and activities such as Chinese Students & Scholars Society, Mcintire Investment Institute, Japan Club, and Virginia Case Club. I like playing tennis, watching movies and sometimes practicing some small magic tricks. I'm trying to pick up basketball recently as well. Next year is going to be my third time volunteering as a Global Greeter and I'm sure I will attempt to provide the best services and guidance to all the new international students coming to Grounds!"  (


Hey! My name is Sara Hall, and I’m a rising second year in the School of Architecture. I grew up in a small town a couple hours away from Charlottesville, and I love calling Virginia my home! On Grounds, I’m involved in the Navigators, one of the many Christian fellowships here. When I’m not in studio, you can find me taking pictures, trying to learn Spanish, or eating chocolate. I love learning about different cultures, and I’ve had so much fun exploring Ecuador and Mexico during my summers. I can’t wait to meet everyone! Wahoowa! (

Hi! My name is Karunya Iyappan and I am a rising second year from Centreville, Virginia, but I was born in my home state, Tamil Nadu in India. I am currently undecided, but I hope to major in Global Public Health and/or Cognitive Science. Here on Grounds, I am involved with Madison House volunteering, HERA Initiative, VISAS, Indian Student Association, and Chi Alpha Fellowship. In my free time, I really love blogging, exploring Charlottesville, and dancing. I am also a huge Grey's Anatomy and Scandal fan! If you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact me at (

Hello! My name is Matthew and I will be a third year studying computer engineering. I live in the International Residential College and love meeting people from all over! My favorite pizza topping is plain and my favorite activity is talking too loudly and also cooking. Looking forward to next summer! (

Hi! My name is Maya Retterer and I am a fourth year majoring in Cognitive Science, but with a focus in the Computer Science aspect of the interdisciplinary study. I am from Northern Virginia, aka NOVA. Besides studying, I really enjoy volunteering at the Charlottesville Free Clinic, working in my immunology lab, and participating in VISAS to meet all the cool foreigners that live in Charlottesville! My top 3 dreams are to speak several languages, travel the world, and become a doctor. So far, I speak only conversationally Spanish and I am learning Polish. Still have quite a ways to go on the other two parts, but that is why they are dreams. Well, that is a little about me. I hope to see you all soon! (

Hello, beautiful people!  I am Charity Malia Dinko, a fourth year transfer student. I am originally from Ghana but a resident of Richmond, Virginia. My major in African-American Students and a possible minor in Social Entrepreneurship on the pre-dental track.  I am involved with the pre-dental society.  I love both science and art; crafting, jewelry making and photography. I run an Etsy shop and a Photo business when I am not engaged with school work. (I am willing to give any advice in those areas).  I also love helping people, which lead me to start my non-profit called Kiota. KIOTA’S mission is to alleviate poverty and increase the primary school attendance ratio among the less fortunate children in Ghana by providing them with healthy meals during school hours while helping their parents start life-changing ventures. I am looking forward to meeting you all soon!  (

Hello everyone! My name is Yinhao Ge, aka. Tony. I am a rising third-year from Shanghai, China, majoring in Chemical Engineering and intend to minor in Foreign Affairs. I absolutely love anything related to Chemistry, and enjoy reading, thinking and debating about geopolitics. Besides, I have a passion for chess (I’ll make you ice-cream if you beat me in chess :), Chinese calligraphy, classical music, tennis, and traveling. Outside of class, I am actively involved in American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), ChemE Car Team, and Chinese Student and Scholar Society (CSSS). I am also a member of the IRO. This year, I am living on German Floor in Shea House, continuing my journey of learning German. Having lived in three distinct cultures, I am used to turning new places into homes, and I hope that, through global greeters, I can help YOU do that as well!  (

Hey everyone! My name is Tyler Hinkle and I am a rising second year History major and prospective Politics major and Latin American Studies minor. I'm from New Market, Virginia, a place over the Blue Ridge Mountains. I grew up with, and learned the culture of many individuals from places such as Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Peru. I am also involved with International Buddies, VISAS (Volunteers with International Students, Staff, and Scholars), International Relations Organization, and I am working on a project on the lived experiences of refugees. I'm excited to join the team of Global Greeters and welcome you to UVa! (

Hi! My name is Jay Park and I am a second  year. I was born in South Korea but moved to the United States at the age of two. I currently live in Northern Virginia. As of now, I am a interested in applying to the McIntire School of Commerce, but I am also interested in studying Computer Science and other majors. One thing I love to do here at UVA is to discover new places to study. However, I am still on the search to find that perfect spot on Grounds. (

Hey, my name is Ayati Arvind and I’m a rising third year Commerce student from New Delhi, India. I love reading, writing, playing the piano and traveling. I’ve had a wonderful time at UVa so far, made a lot of friends and have been fortunate enough to get involved in some great organizations like Madison House, HackCville, Days on the Lawn, The Early Social Development Lab (a child psychology lab), The Cavalier Daily and Green Dot. I love exploring new cultures and meeting new people, another great part about UVA. I had a great time during the orientation for international students and met so many amazing people from diverse backgrounds, with such interesting stories to tell. I found my niche here and am certain that you will too. I’m excited to be a Global Greeter and can’t wait to welcome all the new International Hoos! (

My name is Kalea Obermeyer, I'm a second year from Gainesville, VA, and I live in the International Residential College. I'm currently in the College of Arts and Sciences but hope to major in Youth and Social Innovations within Curry! Helping kids learn about the endless opportunities available in the world to grow is my greatest passion, so if you ever want to talk about education, I'm your girl. I've lived in suburban Virginia my entire life, but I've been to Ireland, England, Whales, France and Iceland (you could say I love flying)! Around Grounds, I'm involved with the parliamentary debate team, Early Visions at the Fralin Museum of Art, and frequently volunteer at Venable Elementary School. Besides all of that, I love exploring new restaurants, going to IRC events, and watching movies on the weekends with my friends and a pint of Ben & Jerry's as my partner-in-crime. I'm so excited to meet you all and share my love for UVA with you! (

HELLO WONDERFUL WAHOOS! My name is Zumzum Khan and I am so excited to welcome you all to UVA! I am a rising second year from Springfield, Virginia in the College of Arts & Sciences. I am currently undecided on my major, but I have taken a wide-variety of classes and would be more than happy to answer any of your questions! On grounds, I am involved in Sustained Dialogue, Globemed, Muslim Student Association and Madison House. Outside of class, you can find me eating dumplings from the dumplings cart, reading a book on the lawn, or sitting in the amphitheater soaking up the sun. I love meeting new people, and I am thrilled to greet you to this amazing family of Hoos and to this wonderful place I call home. (

My name is Brianna Benjamin. I hail from the Nature Island of the Caribbean, Dominica, and was born and raised for the majority of my life there. Upon reaching the age of fourteen, I migrated to the United States Virgin Islands, where I completed high school, and subsequently began my tertiary education at the University of the Virgin Islands. Last year, I received the opportunity to continue my tertiary education here, at The University of Virginia. It has been quite a change, from steady warm, tropical temperatures, to the ever changing climate of Virginia. However, this school has been quite welcoming, and, as time goes on, I find myself growing more comfortable here. My major here is Biology, and I am pursuing a minor in Bioethics.  In my free time, I enjoy watching suspense, renaissance, horror, and Sci-Fi films. My favorite place to visit on grounds is the Chapel, because I find the stained-glass art within to be beautiful.  Feel free to reach out to me at, if you ever want to chat! 

Hi! My name is Aditya Seth and I'm from Mumbai, India. I am a second year in the College of Arts and Sciences and hope to get into the McIntire School of Commerce. I am extremely passionate about politics and foreign affairs and I'm involved with the International Relations Organisation on Grounds. I occasionally travel with the Model UN team as well. Apart from this, I am involved with the Mcintire Sales and Trading Group and the Global Student Council as well. I'm also a big foodie and love exploring all the different food options around Charlottesville every now and then. This will be my first year as a global greeter and I'm excited to show all of you around grounds! Go Hoos! (

Hi everyone! My name is Elaine Cheng and I’m a second year in the College of Arts and Sciences. I’m an international student originally from Hong Kong, where I graduated from HS. I’ve never lived in the U.S so coming to UVA was a wonderful adventure for me. I’m not entirely sure what I will be majoring in but I have interests in politics and business. Besides Global Greeters, I’m also a Student Ambassador at UVA. Some things I enjoy doing around Charlottesville are definitely exploring the plethora of restaurants and little shops this town offers as well as supporting our sports teams. Charlottesville has so much to offer and I can’t wait to show you all around! (

Hello! My name is Brittney Ogbonna and I am a second year planning to major in Human Biology. I was born and raised in Mount Rainier, MD, a small town right outside of Washington, DC. When I am not in class, I volunteer through Madison House and Hoos in the Office. In addition to this, I am extremely passionate about Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship where I recently went on a mission trip to Atlanta, Georgia. I call the International Residential College my home here on grounds, which is a place that flourishes in diversity. I have had a variety of cultural experiences, such as being a Youth Ambassador to France in high school and growing up in a Nigerian home, and I look forward to continuing that through Global Greeters.  (