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Forum addresses cultural stigmas

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International Student advisor Aracelia Sanchez speaks with students Wednesday in the Campus Center Ballroom. The faculty symposium, organized by the Office of International Services, became an informal discussion group as students and faculty spoke openly with each other about integration, cultural divides, personal experiences and proposed solutions to allow international and U.S. students to come together as one student body.

International Student adviser Aracelia Sanchez speaks with students Wednesday in the Campus Center Ballroom. The faculty symposium, organized by the Office of International Services, became an informal discussion group as students and faculty spoke openly with each other about integration, cultural divides, personal experiences and proposed solutions to allow international and U.S. students to come together as one student body. / photo by Michael Savall

Megan Sears
Staff Writer

Faculty and staff gathered together to discuss the cultural shock international students face when trying to adapt to American culture Tuesday in the Campus Center Ballroom.

In a round table discussion a small group of faculty, staff and students discussed their experiences as international students.

Through the discussion, they brought up the importance of international students building connections with other international students, American students and professors on campus.

“If I were to summarize in one sentence what being an international student is all about, for me it was about establishing connections,”Assistant Professor of Management Giacomo Laffranchini said.

Laffranchini discussed his experience as an international student from Italy. He said he regretted that his first experience was excessively focused on learning French. He said that he missed the opportunity to make long lasting connections.

The topic of connections would remain the focus of the round table.

“I think you really need to put in the effort to understand the group of the culture to help make effective communication,” Assistant Professor of Management Si Hyun said.

Hyun then spoke of her experiences as an international student from Korea. She said at first she was reluctant to build connections, because she never thought she would stay in the United States.

Hyun focused her discussion on the fact that international students may feel uncomfortable reaching out and making connections with faculty and students. She said she was always too afraid to interact with people who were not Korean, but now she makes it a point to make connections on campus.

“The first time I came here I had language and culture problems,” junior business administration major YiTing Lin said. “It was very hard for me to get involved in the social life with all the American students, Everyday my schedule was go to school and study, which made my first year tough.”

Wrapping up the discussion, University Librarian Vinaya Tripuraneni asked the group how the University can get more international students involved on campus.

“A lot of the big barriers that we’ve had is that for years they’ve seen big events and think they’re only for undergraduate,” said Sanchez. “So this year we’ve been doing a really good job of making it known that undergraduate, ELS students, faculty and staff are all welcome.”

Sanchez went on to talk about having different events at different times to make them more accessible to faculty and student schedules.

The event was sponsored by the Office of International Services and Engagement as part of the University’s International Education Month.

They hosted another speaker event Wednesday where international students could spread awareness for problems in other cultures and an International Education Festival Thursday.

Megan Sears can be reached at megan.sears@laverne.edu.

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