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International students deserve equal opportunities

“We are sorry but we were not fully aware that you are an international student. We cannot offer this position to candidates with your status at this moment. Your skills and breadth of experience is truly impressive, though.”

This kind of response is not uncommon among international students seeking employment in America. Many of my international friends and I have continuously faced situations where we have already passed the dreaded vetting process at our dream companies or corporations, only to be told that these companies cannot issue an offer since they just realized that we are not citizens or permanent residents of this country. It is difficult to find a good job these days upon graduation, but it is perhaps two or three times harder for international students to land a job here in America.

For international students, our process seeking for any kinds of employment in America, is often quite daunting. International students’ declared majors are required to be directly related to the positions for which we are applying. Therefore, this seemingly instinctive choice of a major comes with tangible consequences.

Unlike domestic students who have the freedom to branch out, international students, who wish to work in America, are legally obligated to stay within their comfort zones. International students’ majors will also later dictate a student’s length of stay/employment. For instance, international students in S.T.E.M. fields can work in America for up to two to three years as compared with other international degree-holders who are only allowed full-time employment for a year.

With all of this in mind, “experiment with different avenues,” “choose to major in what you love,” and many other conventional pieces of advice are not always applicable for international students as we make numerous sacrifices to strategize our career advancement plans.

Even when an international student has spent the short initial year(s) of working in America, the future looks uncertain as more paperwork, more competition, more anxiety emerges as one seeks to renew their work permit after certain length of stay. Especially with the current changing policies here in America, it is impossible to see any stability in a plan to remain in this country as a foreigner.

I am a privileged individual who has, and also prefers, the option of returning home to start building my career. However, there are many reasons other international students wish to remain in America for work, including ones who cannot afford to go home since their families had given up much of their wealth for their children’s American education. Some countries simply do not have the infrastructure to support what international students desire to do upon their return home. Others want to stay in America because this country, despite its many flaws and occasional hostility, has become a home which they simply do not wish to leave.

For whatever reason it is that international students want to remain in America after graduation, they deserve a fair chance to seek out employment, not just for their own gain, but also for this country’s own growth.

The breadth of experience and the amount of adversity international students champion is simply amazing. These experiences, whether positive, negative or just downright odd, have built us into adaptable, skillful, strong and unstoppable individuals. International students should have utmost confidence in their ability to relocate and contribute their talents elsewhere, may it be their home country or another more welcoming nation. In short, we slay, whenever, wherever, and it most certainly does not have to be in America.

Melany Le a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at LLe18@wooster.edu.

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Wellness Center holds sessions on healthy relationships

Interview by Robyn Newcomb ’20, a
Features Editor for the Voice (Photo

Struggling with maintaining or balancing a relationship in college? Piloting a new group session program this semester, The Wellness Peer Educators are hosting sessions on dating and relationships in college titled “Swipe Smart. Swipe Right: Dating and Relationships at Wooster.”

“The peer educators are really excited to lead next week’s sessions on relationships and dating at the College. The following topics will be discussed in each session: dating culture on the Wooster campus, tips for college relationships, the five love languages, characteristics of healthy relationships, characteristics of unhealthy relationships, consent and dealing with the aftermath of a hookup,” said Rachel David, health education coordinator at the Longbrake Student Wellness Center.

“Since each of these topics could have their own individual sessions, the peer educators will focus on providing introductory information on each one, with plans to dive deeper into each area in future sessions. There will be periods of discussion, reflection and instruction,” said David.

While many admire Wooster for its tight knit culture and small community, these characteristics become problematic when seeking new relationships. To combat these struggles, peer educators presented many tips for students to maintain healthy relationships.

The first tip included preventing your relationships from consuming your college time; taking advantage of activities and what Wooster has to offer. Relationships shouldn’t completely engross those involved and should allow its participants to be productive and not disconnect from the world.

The second tip is to keep in mind personal happiness levels. If you are unhappy, don’t waste your time. Relationships won’t be happy 100 percent of the time, so refrain from establishing individual happiness based on the influence of others.

The final tip in the session was self-love. Understanding the importance of self-love and being at peace with yourself will diminish underlying problems from getting in the way of a successful relationship.

Despite the fact that relationships are supposed to be enhancers and are most importantly enjoyable, not letting relationships dominate your college life is crucial. In order to have a successful relationship, the peer educators emphasized that understanding positive characteristics is crucial. These attributes of healthy relationships include: communication, balance, honesty and trust. With these in mind, relationships are able to succeed.

This week’s session incorporated the significance of not feeling pressured to date, prioritizing self-happiness, recognizing what you want from a relationship and learning how to communicate those emotions.

Since student well-being is a priority at Wooster, there are many resources available if necessary. It is important to be aware of signs of an unhealthy relationship and to know when help is needed. The signs of an unhealthy relationship include but are not limited to: an inability to establish and appreciate relationships with other people, manipulation, lack of communication and a lack of honesty or trust.

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Africana studies professor wins women’s studies award for book proposal

Eleanor Linafelt
Chief Copy Editor

Nicosia Shakes, a professor of Africana studies who finished her Ph.D. at Brown University this past May, won the National Women’s Studies Association/University of Illinois Press (NWSA/UIP) First Book Prize this October. Her proposed book, “Gender, Race and Performance Space: Women’s Activism in Jamaican and South African Theatre,” is an expansion of her dissertation in which she argued that the work of women’s theatre groups, such as Sistren Theatre Collective in Jamaica and the Mothertongue Project in South Africa, is theorizing.

In her book, Shakes plans to also write about Olive Tree Theatre in South Africa and The Memory, Urban Violence and Performance Project in Jamaica. “I’m putting these two theatre collectives, and in the book, these four theatre groups, in conversation with feminist scholars. I am showing how women’s theatre essentially is feminist theory,” Shakes said.

Though she draws from the writings of other women who have discussed theatre as theory, including Omi Osun Joni L. Jones, Honor Ford-Smith and Sara Matchett, she deepens their work by applying it to what she calls a “transnational analysis of Jamaica and South Africa.”

Shakes is interested in the way in which women performers portray feminist thought in their plays. “One of the things that I want to do is talk about theatre aesthetics, and specifically theater aesthetics and activism among women of African descent and African women,” she said.

Shakes explained that much of the existing scholarship on theatre aesthetics is written by white people and particularly white men. “I have a concern about that so what I really want to show is that these women are innovators that we can learn from; they have particular reasons behind why they do the kind of theatre that they do,” Shakes said. The way she shows this in her work is through writing about the performances of theatre groups. “I don’t focus on analyzing play scripts, I analyze performances. My research is field research. I actually go and interview people and watch performances,” Shakes said.

Shakes’ work is also unique in that she focuses specifically on theatre groups rather than individual playwrights, something that is not common in theatre and performance theory. “As it is now, the scholarship on Africa and the Caribbean is very much about individual playwrights who have published plays,” she explained.

Shakes’ scholarship comes out of a personal interest in theatre, as she is also a playwright and has been involved in working in theatre. “A lot of this research came from the concern that I had with theatre and thinking that women are not getting the recognition that they should in theatre. I’ve also been troubled by gender stereotypes in theatre in the Caribbean, but also outside of the Caribbean,” she said.

Though women may not be getting the recognition they deserve in theatre now, the attention that the NWSA/UIP First Book Prize gives to Shakes’ work will perhaps contribute to changing that. “It has already called attention to my work, it has publicized my work among scholars,” Shakes said. For such a new professor, this is hugely significant. “My book will come out within the next two years and usually it takes many years for someone to publish a book after they finish a Ph.D., so my work will get the attention that it needs very, very early,” she said.

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Scotlight

A weekly inside look at the unique faces and personalities that make up The College of Wooster community.

Sally Kershner
Features Editor

Tell us about your involvement at Wooster.

In terms of school stuff, I’m very much all over the map. I really liked art and philosophy in high school, and those have carried over to college. I originally came here for chemistry, but then I got really into math. In the molecular orbital theory section of my first chem class, I raised my hand and was like, “Well how do we know that molecular orbitals are the shape that they are?” And the professor said, “Well really that’s just a bunch of math.” And I said, “Well do you guys ever talk about that?” And he said, “We talk about that in P Chem, but we don’t get into that very much.” And I thought, if I really want to understand the structure of the world, math seems to be where it’s at — I sort of skipped physics because it’s terrifying — and I declared my math major! Becoming a dentist is the ultimate goal, though.

Outside of academics, I play the piano and the melodica. I love playing at bluegrass when I can. I’m the vice president of the Living Wage Campaign, promoting staff respect among students here, and I’m a part of the student health coach program.

[Health coaching] is a really striking program because you see, you know, older people really start to care about themselves because other people care about them. A lot of times when people get sick and old they kind of — the self-care just drops. And if you have a younger person coming into your life saying, “You should care about this, you should want to continue living your life,” that really inspires them to take action.

Also, this isn’t an official club activity, but the health coach program has made me very cognizant of COPD [Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease], so I’m very anti-smoking and make it a point to keep people I know here from smoking as a habit. I’m very adamant about saving people’s lungs.

Do you think Wooster is a place that allows for students to have varied passions?

Yes, but it depends on the passions you pursue. I obviously enjoy math, art and philosophy, and because the math major leaves me room to take classes in other areas and the faculty encourage that, that’s something I can do … It’s helpful to be able to take a philosophy class and not feel guilty about not taking more math classes.

There are a lot of clubs on campus, which I think is a really good thing too, although I am actually surprised by the lack of art-related clubs and activities on campus. The only regularly-meeting art club I know of is knitting club, and I don’t knit, so I’d love to see more collaborative art events happening. Also, I don’t want to sound like I’m bashing Ebert at all, but they are a little exclusive to non-majors. It doesn’t make it very easy for non-art majors to come in and use that space or work on their goals in art — that is something that makes it difficult.

What draws you to comics as your preferred medium?

So, the graphic novel as a medium was first introduced to me by Scott McCloud’s trilogy on understanding comics. Once I discovered how much possibility lied in the medium, I got really excited about it — it’s like you’re making a movie, but for really, really cheap. It’s portable, I can work on it whenever I want and I have more control over it — it blows the doors wide open in terms of what you can do.

I saw that as an opportunity to share my personal experience of how I perceive the world, because in high school — being homeschooled and going to online high school my whole life before Wooster — I was very isolated, I had all these weird imaginary friends in this period of really only being with myself and encountering these people who were part of my imagination and my experience of real life. I couldn’t really communicate that to anyone very well except through pictures and trying to tell their story. So, I want to write a graphic novel about that.

Freshman year, I actually wrote a small, autobiographical comic about five pages long on really big pages for my figure drawing class. That was me experimenting and seeing “Do I really want to go forward with this?” That was a really positive experience, so I was like, “I want to do this.”

Fun Fact?

I have a fear of pool lightbulbs. Also, my dad was the world champion of competitive roller-skating in the eighties.

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Engage in cross-cultural dialogue

As we send off our annual International Education Week, we are again reminded of the existence of our diverse multicultural student body and amazed by the incredibly colorful display of cultures. Through a plethora of cultural and educational events that took place during the week, we celebrate international students’ contributions to the campus and provide opportunities for domestic students to learn about other cultures.

As someone who has been a member of multicultural organizations, I can tell you that international students work extremely hard to make sure these events such as cultural dinners and presentations are successful and well-attended by the community. We believe that it is important to actively represent our culture and we welcome you in our celebrations. However, our international programming seems to always be limited to the annual, large-scale events. What we do not see enough of are meaningful, interactive opportunities for domestic and international students to get together and learn from each other.

The lack of interaction between international and domestic students has perhaps attributed to the perception of international students as merely performers in these cultural showcases. If the exchange and participation stops at devouring South Asian food and watching an African dance, international students are still very much objectified in relation to their culture. Therefore, it is no wonder that international students may feel foreign in ways that go beyond their nationality. In a college as small as Wooster, international students are disproportionately represented in sports teams, Greek life and other non-cultural organizations. Is The College of Wooster creating an environment for all students to grow and succeed? Is this a safe, educational space that fosters personal intercultural interactions? Do we have the capacity to support the growing number of international students academically, socially and intellectually?

I am encouraged to see that in recent years, resources have become increasingly available for international students hoping to receive language support. We have a full-time English Language Learning coordinator, who manages the ELL Peer Tutoring program and offers individual appointments. Yet, these programs, such as the writing studio class, are completely voluntary. With almost 100 first-years international students enrolled, the need for consistent English support is not always met. A number of first-year students, usually a combination of domestic and international students, participate in Global Engagement Seminar. Facilitated by Center for Diversity and Inclusion staff, students are introduced to a list of important American topics and issues and discuss them from their personal and global perspectives.

However, it is worth noting that these opportunities not only are almost exclusively targeting first-year students, but are also limited to a number of participants. I believe it is crucial to expand these cross-cultural dialogues to the whole campus to ensure that meaningful, interactive learning opportunities are taking place consistently. Through collaborative programming, students should be encouraged to participate in more conversation with people of diverse backgrounds without the fear of discrimination. In addition, more training programs need to be implemented for faculty and staff to be equipped to facilitate intercultural conversations in classrooms and informal settings.

Lastly, to the campus community, when attending our various cultural events, do not stop at appreciating the diverse cultures, but be curious and don’t be afraid to ask meaningful questions. It’s absolutely essential as an institution that is actively seeking a larger international enrollment that appropriate levels of service and support are put in place. I believe that it is important for Wooster to recognize that having international students on campus is an opportunity for students, faculty members and administrators to take advantage of our differences and to truly celebrate diversity.

Yichu Xu, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment YXu18@wooster.edu.

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Savor your college experience

While walking down the street recently, taking in a scenic view of the residential quad, I had a thought that made me stop in my tracks: This would be my last autumn at The College of Wooster. My last Halloween. My last Thanksgiving, my last Culture Show, my last college everything (at least, hopefully — given I pass my I.S., of course).

I’m not sure if any other seniors are feeling the same way as well, but for me, the collegiate nostalgia is beginning to hit in full force. It’s like the senior feelings from high school, but… more personal. I’ve grown so much as a person in college, and Wooster has become a second home.

I have spent most of this semester looking around me, seeing my closest friends — many of whom are seniors as well — going through the various stages of their I.S., applying to graduate school and even beginning to plan for the future. Some haven’t considered life past college. Others, meanwhile, seem to have everything planned, down to a “t.” I can assure you, dear reader, that I most certainly don’t.

Still, we all have one thing in common: Come May, we will no longer be together each day. No more late night Momino’s (Domino’s at Mom’s, for the uninitiated). No more Cards Against Humanity or movies into the wee hours of the morning. No more of everything we hate and love about Wooster.

Little do we realize, but our time as undergraduates is ticking away by the second. This is not meant to be bleak or depressing — it’s just true. No matter how much we want to avoid the future, it will come to us, whether we want it to or not. We’ll have to enter the “real world,” responsibilities and all. By May, we can hope we’ll be ready to move on to bigger and better things. But, right now, this is our time to shine.

College is hard, and I am not trying to sugarcoat or romanticize it in the slightest. It’s rough being a freshman, being a sophomore is difficult and being a junior can feel like an emotional marathon. Senior year puts them all to shame, as I am finding out. But, this undergraduate experience, with its good and its bad, is something we all share here, preparing us for the “real world.”

So I ask you, dear readers, to try to live in the moment. Go downtown. Read that book that’s been beckoning to you beneath the mountain of homework on your desk. Take a road trip with friends, whether it’s to another city, or to uptown Wooster. I don’t care what it is: if you’re going to regret not doing it before you graduate, then do it (as long as it’s both legal and within reason, of course).

Underclassmen, you still have time to spare; spend it with those you love. Those mundane moments, like watching the snow fall from the cozy couches of Old Main as you drink a cup of tea, or laughing late into the night with your pals — they will come to an end all too soon.

Everyone, take advantage of the time you have. When the world feels like it’s about to crush you, when your assignments are piling up, when you’re feeling suffocated by deadlines, politics and by life — take a moment to breathe, and remember that one day, these halcyon days will be remembered with a bittersweet pang of nostalgia. Even if right now, everything feels like it sucks, you can do it. We can do it. I have faith in you.

To you, dear reader: best of luck.

Katie Randazzo a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at KRandazzo18@wooster.edu.

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