For International Education Week, Arcadia spoke with members of the International Students Advisory Board, which serves to provide additional resources to international students at Arcadia.
Led by Actuarial Science student Hao “Marco” Huang ’22 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Counseling Psychology student Hannah Baer ’22M (email@example.com), and Computer Science student Xincheng “Kyrie” Zhu ’21 (firstname.lastname@example.org), and advised by Office of International Programs Assistant Director International Students Chelsea Herskovitz, the board offers information and support to Arcadia’s international students that they be unaware of, and they encourage students to reach out to them with questions or concerns.
Q: What is the primary mission of the International Student Advisory Board?
Baer: It's here to help students, and we're the people in the middle who can direct them to the right person and get answers from others at the University. For example, if an international student is having an issue with healthcare, they could come to us, and we would find out who to direct them to and where to get information because not all international students will know how where to go. We're there for support. This is especially important because something like a third of our students aren't even in the country right now.
Huang: To add to that, I think this board is like a bridge to connect the faculty and our international students. Especially in this special period, we are having a lot of difficulties during this time. So we’re going to collect some issues international students face and try to get feedback from the faculty or even the President for the students.
Q: Why did you choose to get involved with the board?
Zhu: When I came here last year we were each assigned an International Peer Associates Mentor (IPAL), someone who lived here and could help us out around campus. But they would have their own work to do or they can't always help us if we would ask them about living here or about the school, or they can’t get to us right away. When I heard about this board, I decided to join on to give some suggestions or to help the new international students to become familiar with Arcadia, so that they always have somewhere to go.
Baer: This summer, we didn't know who was staying and who was not, and we didn’t know everything happening with ICE [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s policies regarding international students]. I found that my counseling friends or people in my graduate counseling all have groups, and they were amazing. I can’t praise them enough—they advocated and they just knew what they were doing. They were talking to my lecturers, and we came up with a plan. I suddenly realized that I was really lucky to have all of these people who knew how to advocate, who knew where to go, and who to reach out to, and I want to be someone like that for other international students.
I noticed that international students don't always know about opportunities at Arcadia, like the Office of Career Education (OCE). They don't always know that they can see career counselors or that they can get help with their resumes. Especially right now with the H1 visa being questionable and what's going to happen with some international students, it's a really good idea for them to use Arcadia’s resources as much as possible to get the best start.
Q: What does the future of the board look like?
Baer: I think that's a really good question, and a bit of a tough one. We're waiting to see what issues we may have to deal with [due to the pandemic and limited travel] and how this may change. I think we can't really say where we want to go [because of] how heavily these things are influencing issues, as we still have international students outside the country. Especially with COVID, we're not even able to meet up, but we want to make sure international students know that they can contact us. We don’t want any students to feel intimidated, we’re here to help. We’re friendly and happy to help our international students whatever way we can.