Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Trinity’s AASA Hosts First International Student Night

AMANDA HAUSMANN ’21

STAFF WRITER

On​ ​Friday​ ​evening,​ ​Oct.​ ​27,​ ​approximately​ ​thirty​ ​students​ ​came​ ​to​ ​the​ ​Terrace​ ​rooms​ ​in Mather​ ​Hall​ ​to​ ​enjoy​ ​delicious​ ​food,​ ​listen​ ​to​ ​a​ ​panel​ ​of​ ​six​ ​Trinity​ ​international​ ​students,​ ​and participate​ ​in​ ​roundtable​ ​discussions​ ​on​ ​what​ ​it​ ​means​ ​to​ ​be​ ​an​ ​international​ ​student.​ ​
Presented by​ ​Trinity’s​ ​Asian-American​ ​Student​ ​Association​ ​(AASA),​ ​the​ ​first​ ​annual​ ​International​ ​Student Night​ ​began​ ​with​ ​a​ ​few​ ​short​ ​words​ ​from​ ​Trinity’s​ ​International​ ​Student​ ​Advisor​ ​Katie​ ​Clair. Clair​ ​spoke​ ​on​ ​the​ ​current​ ​demographic​ ​of​ ​Trinity’s​ ​international​ ​student​ ​body​ ​and​ ​some​ ​of​ ​the struggles​ ​international​ ​students​ ​deal​ ​with​ ​on​ ​a​ ​day-to-day​ ​basis,​ ​including​ ​employment​ ​and​ ​visa limitations​ ​and​ ​post-graduation​ ​plans.
Moderated​ ​by​ ​AASA’s​ ​Social​ ​Chair​ ​Ethan​ ​Yang​ ​’20,​ ​panelists​ ​Gavin​ ​Xu​ ​’21,​ ​Dnegkui Huang​ ​’19,​ ​Jennifer​ ​Nguyen​ ​’18,​ ​Farhan​ ​Rozaidi​ ​’20,​ ​Mallika​ ​Khanna​ ​’18,​ ​and​ ​Hamna​ ​Tariq​ ’20 reflected​ ​on​ ​their​ ​experiences​ ​as​ ​international​ ​students​ ​by​ ​answer​ ​the​ ​following​ ​questions:​ ​What was​ ​your​ ​perception​ ​of​ ​America​ ​before​ ​you​ ​came?​ ​How​ ​does​ ​Hartford​ ​compare​ ​to​ ​your hometown?​ ​In​ ​your​ ​experience,​ ​how​ ​do​ ​international​ ​students​ ​interact​ ​with​ ​one​ ​another​ ​as opposed​ ​to​ ​how​ ​they​ ​interact​ ​with​ ​domestic​ ​students?​ ​What​ ​do​ ​you​ ​think​ ​Trinity​ ​or​ ​AASA​ ​can do​ ​to​ ​make​ ​international​ ​students​ ​feel​ ​more​ ​welcome?​ ​If​ ​you​ ​could​ ​make​ ​one​ ​AASA​ ​event,​ ​what would​ ​it​ ​be?
The​ ​panelists​ ​answers​ ​ranged​ ​greatly,​ ​reflecting​ ​how​ ​long​ ​each​ ​individual​ ​has​ ​been studying​ ​and​ ​living​ ​in​ ​the​ ​U.S.;​ ​however,​ ​some​ ​common​ ​themes​ ​included​ ​an​ ​idealistic​ ​perception of​ ​the​ ​U.S.​ ​as​ ​a​ ​“land​ ​of​ ​opportunity”​ ​with​ ​the​ ​promise​ ​of​ ​freedom​ ​of​ ​speech​ ​before​ ​coming​ ​here, the​ ​necessity​ ​of​ ​adjusting​ ​to​ ​the​ ​size​ ​and​ ​cultural​ ​differences​ ​of​ ​Hartford,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​too​ ​often strained​ ​and​ ​exclusionary​ ​dynamics​ ​between​ ​international​ ​and​ ​domestic​ ​students.
While​ ​some​ ​panelists​ ​agreed​ ​that​ ​the​ ​U.S.​ ​is​ ​everything​ ​they​ ​thought​ ​it​ ​would​ ​be,​ ​others
stressed​ ​that​ ​the​ ​rights​ ​of​ ​Americans​ ​do​ ​not​ ​apply​ ​to​ ​immigrants​ ​in​ ​the​ ​same​ ​capacity​ ​and therefore​ ​they​ ​should​ ​not​ ​always​ ​have​ ​to​ ​glorify​ ​them.​ ​With​ ​regard​ ​to​ ​relationships​ ​between international​ ​and​ ​domestic​ ​students,​ ​many​ ​panelists​ ​agreed​ ​that​ ​they​ ​often​ ​feel​ ​excluded​ ​and​ ​their identity​ ​diminished​ ​to​ ​their​ ​nationality​ ​by​ ​some​ ​domestic​ ​students.​ ​Additionally,​ ​most​ ​panelists expressed​ ​that​ ​they​ ​enjoy​ ​spending​ ​time​ ​with​ ​individuals​ ​who​ ​have​ ​similar​ ​interests​ ​as​ ​them, which​ ​sometimes​ ​just​ ​happens​ ​to​ ​be​ ​other​ ​international​ ​students.
Looking​ ​to​ ​the​ ​future,​ ​the​ ​panelists​ ​hope​ ​to​ ​see​ ​more​ ​domestic​ ​students​ ​participate​ ​in events​ ​such​ ​as​ ​International​ ​Student​ ​Night.​ ​Some​ ​suggestions​ ​made​ ​by​ ​the​ ​panelists​ ​to​ ​help​ ​make Trinity​ ​more​ ​inclusive​ ​and​ ​welcoming​ ​to​ ​international​ ​students​ ​include​ ​Mallika​ ​Khanna’s suggestion​ ​to​ ​add​ ​an​ ​ESL​ ​program​ ​to​ ​help​ ​international​ ​students​ ​struggling​ ​with​ ​language barriers​ ​in​ ​both​ ​social​ ​and​ ​academic​ ​settings,​ ​as​ ​well​ ​as​ ​Hamna​ ​Tariq’s​ ​suggestion​ ​to​ ​eliminate the​ ​financial​ ​barriers​ ​of​ ​Trinity’s​ ​different​ ​dining​ ​plans–an​ ​act​ ​of​ ​blatant​ ​economic discrimination.
Over​ ​the​ ​next​ ​few​ ​months,​ ​AASA​ ​will​ ​be​ ​organizing​ ​more​ ​events​ ​and​ ​projects​ ​to​ ​promote the​ ​inclusion​ ​of​ ​all​ ​Trinity​ ​students.​ ​One​ ​event​ ​AASA​ ​first-year​ ​representative​ ​Jeffrey​ ​Sagun​ ​is particularly​ ​excited​ ​about​ ​is​ ​the​ ​“What’s​ ​Your​ ​Story”​ ​project.​ ​Fellow​ ​AASA​ ​first-year representative​ ​Quinn​ ​Luong​ ​and​ ​Sagun​ ​“hope​ ​to​ ​spark​ ​the​ ​conversation​ ​of​ ​the​ ​importance​ ​of storytelling​ ​and​ ​the​ ​impact​ ​it​ ​can​ ​have​ ​on​ ​others”​ ​by​ ​creating​ ​a​ ​short​ ​video​ ​compiled​ ​of​ ​personal stories​ ​from​ ​different​ ​Trinity​ ​students.​ ​The​ ​reps​ ​hope​ ​to​ ​complete​ ​their​ ​project​ ​by​ ​early December.

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