AMANDA HAUSMANN ’21
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.