Marius Kaisig –
Good news for the international community at IC. The “International Student Action Team” is a newly formed committee which aims at overseeing, researching and developing programs to support the success of international students here at Illinois College. The program will also give international students a “home base”.
Before the initiation of the program, international students usually got to know each other during orientation week and the class they shared during their first semester (also a fairly recent addition to the international program). The students were divided according to their year. The new committee will make it easier for the individual students to overcome this barrier and help them connect with international students that are older or younger, therefore strengthening the international community on campus, even outside the classroom.
The Action Team will mainly be responsible for the organization of activities and field trips. This includes activities such as ice skating or a trip to St. Louis in April. Most of these trips are open not only for international students, but for any IC student who may find an interest in connecting with other students from all over the world. This highlights another purpose of the Action Team. It is not just supposed to help the international students find each other, but also to help them integrate within the campus community. Numerous students may want to connect with international students, but just do not know how. The Action Team provides them with an easy way to do so.
Many students come from countries that are culturally very different from what they may find here in Central Illinois. The committee tries to connect the individual student with people that may endure the same culture shock experience. International students will have a platform where they can express their concerns, socialize with other students and overall enhance their experience at Illinois College. One idea of the committee that will be especially interesting for upperclassmen is the bringing international Alumni to campus. Examples like Juan Herta ‘89, who is originally from Panama but is now in charge of community relations in the city of Springfield, show how diverse not only the community here on campus is but also how different their stories after graduation are.
The International Student Action Team is a subcommittee of the Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee (DIC) which President Farley appointed last October. The chair of the committee is the Dean of Student Success, Andrew Jones. The Action Team is currently mainly organized by student intern Chimge Tsendnyam who works closely with Rebecca Spencer, the Director of the Intercultural Exchange program and Study Abroad Program Director, Dr. Almut Spalding. The Action Team is part of IC’s Strategic Plan Initiative which aims at empowering students and help them think and act globally.
I believe the new Action Team will be a great addition to the educational environment here on campus. Not only will it help the students individually, but the campus as a whole will benefit from a healthy, diverse community. Thank you to Chimge whom I interviewed for this article.