International Student Panel hopes to educate, integrate international and local student experiences

February 14, 2017

Kyle Guthrie

[email protected]

     America is a mixture of multiple countries’ customs, earning its title as a “melting pot.” Other names for this merging of cultures include “salad bowl,” “kaleidoscope” and even “mosaic.”

     MOSAIC International Social Support and the Department of Communication will host the International Student Panel at 7 p.m. on Feb. 16. The event, coordinated by international student Agatha Graselia, will be held in University Center 124.

     The panel hopes to spread awareness to students about international students’ stories and experiences. The panel will allow students to exchange dialogue and ideas to start conversation and create relationships.

     Jesse Perez, MOSAIC LGBT program director, said that MOSAIC is trying to create a varied panel of international students to show the diversity on campus. Students from European and African countries, among others, will be represented, said Perez.

     “We try to have a good balance of representation. The idea behind it is to provide the campus with an opportunity to understand the international experience,” he said.

     “We live in a very diverse world, and our goal is for students studying here to leave here…with a global experience from here as well when they go and seek careers.”

     UCCS is home to 264 international students from 30 countries, according to Mandy Hansen, director of Global Engagement. Saudi Arabia, India, China, Spain and Canada send the most students to UCCS.

     “These students attend UCCS to study in all areas at the graduate and undergraduate levels, as well as intensive English,” said Hansen.

     Recognizing other cultures and incorporating those customs into our way of life is important, according to Perez.

     “Part of the college experience is having the opportunity to experience all different types of people, from personality to cultures,” he said.

     Perez hopes to discuss the transition that many international students go through when coming to the states as part of the panel. International students will discuss how they transitioned from studying in their home country versus the U.S.

     “One of the big things we focus on is the U.S. and international perception of it before traveling here and then after experiencing (the country),” said Perez.

     Perez explained the importance of recognizing and incorporating outside cultures into our way of life, a goal that the International Student Panel hopes to motivate. Reaching out to international students was an obstacle that was difficult to overcome, according to Anthony Cordova, director of MOSAIC and the MOSAIC Gateway Program.

     “What tends to happen with international students is that they tend to stick with their own population, so the Indian students would find housing close together and support each other. It’s not a bad thing at all, but they have that common language and common culture,” said Cordova.

     While classroom studies are important for international students, his personal experiences have taught him that what they learn outside of the classroom is just as important, said Cordova.

     “I always tell people that when I was a student, I learned just as much outside of the classroom as I did in the classroom,” he said.

     “Looking at students now, they may not enjoy living in the dorms, but you learn a lot about other people who are not from your home, and you learn to get along with people who are different than you.”