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International students cont.

-al students. Still, I do think there are areas for growth,” said Tanaka Chingonzo ’21, noting that even small details, such as a more flexible meal plan that would allow students to transfer their excess meal swipes to international students — who run out earlier if they need to stay on campus over breaks — would make a big difference in allowing international students to not have to put more effort into their daily lives than their domestic peers.

Several students noted that the nature of international student orientation could be an area for improvement as well. While orientation aims to equip incoming international students with the knowledge and resources they need as quickly as possible upon arriving on campus, it may not be sustained enough to be fostering their well-being and social connection after that initial few weeks.

“It’s six days of back-to-back events where information is being thrown at you. That’s difficult to change, but it doesn’t really ease or guide you into this new environment,” said Khan. “You don’t really have any time to process it, and then on the seventh day classes start.”

Chingonzo agreed, suggesting that the differing arrival times for domestic and international students may play a role in the social disconnect between the two student populations as well.

“By the time that the domestic students arrive, people don’t really put in the effort, because you’ve already settled into friend groups — I think something should be done about that. If domestic and international students started school at the same time, it would make it much more intuitive. People wouldn’t have to put in so much effort to leave their comfort zones,” Chingonzo said.

“For one, I feel that the disconnect between international and domestic students exists when international students don’t get involved on campus,” said Saeed Husain ’21, speaking to the need for more sustained orientation and outreach. “It gets tough after your first few months here — there needs to be constant outreach to have everyone included.”

Chingonzo and Khan agreed that programs such as the International Partnership Program or the Global Engagement Seminar had been very positive elements of their experiences and that such initiatives should be more widely promoted to international and domestic students alike.

Chingonzo feels that the College community will know that it is doing a better job in supporting its international population when more international students are filling leadership positions across campus, especially as residential assistants and in student governing bodies. Chingonzo noted that he will be the only international student among the 24 members of the Student Government Association next year. “That, to me, is indicative of something,” he said.

“As president of ISA and a graduating senior,” said Yichu Xu ’18, “I would like to keep seeing the increase of attention given to making support and resources available and accessible for international students inregard to their academic and social life.”

However, the work that lies ahead shouldn’t undercut or devalue the work that is currently being done. “I would say that International Student Services at the CDI has probably the best people I know on campus,” Husain emphasized. “Both Jill Munro and Kendra Morehead are just amazing and so incredibly receptive towards international kids. Their doors are always open, and we can talk to them about anything from classes to the issues we face with our visa.”

“I think the College does a lot, above and beyond what most colleges do,” Chingonzo agreed.

Addressing the new changes and the challenges ahead, Munro feels that every member of the community must stand collectively on a path forward. “The College strives to support students as best they can, but there is always additional work that can be done. As our international population continues to grow, everyone in the Wooster community has a responsibility to help welcome them, learn from them and appreciate the new perspectives and values they bring,” she said.

As Munro highlights, it is the role of every member of the College community to be actively working to improve the climate for Wooster’s internationals. What is it that the student body needs to be doing better?

Several students emphasized that domestic students must work harder to educate themselves on global perspectives instead of simply expecting international students to assimilate into American culture.

“There’s a lot of pressure on international students to just assimilate within the College environment and American society without actually recognizing the cultural differences in place,” said Khan. “It shouldn’t just be on the international students to assimilate; it should also be that the host environment is a place that understands those differences.”

“The cultural events are good,” Husain added, “but I feel that the student body generally sees them just as a form of entertainment and not as a chance to genuinely connect with another culture.”

Cultural competency and awareness of microaggressions play a major role in the work that lies ahead for Wooster’s domestic students as well.

“While I haven’t faced direct racism from anyone on campus, I’ve received what I feel is casual racism,” said Husain, describing instances of peers telling him that he was only hired as a tour guide because he was international. “I checked the numbers, and it turns out that I was the only international student hired amongst around 20 new hires.”

“I think it comes down to not being ignorant,” said Khan. “I’ve witnessed people talking to an international student in the most condescending way possible. And it’s like, why? … There’s that kind of ideology where just because English isn’t someone’s first language, you have some sort of superiority over them.”

“If you wanted, I would be 100 percent willing to tell you everything about Pakistan,” Khan continued. “I want to educate you. I want to spread awareness about where I’ve grown up, this place that has been such a big part of my life. But I also don’t appreciate being asked questions that are demeaning to my people. It’s all in the rhetoric that’s used.”

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