Southern Illinois University System addresses international student challenges
February 27, 2021
On February 23, the Southern Illinois University System organized a Zoom session broadcasted live on YouTube with an aim to examine the challenges and opportunities of International Students in SIUC and SIUE.
Students and faculty members from SIUE and SIUC attended the zoom session to discuss the issues and the progress of the schools that they have experienced.
Dr. Ramesh Neupane, SIUC Study Abroad Associate Director, was the moderator of the program and raised discussions on various major topics such as the mission and vision of SIUC as an International University. In the meeting, the challenges faced by International Students were also discussed.
Some of these include cultural differences, educational system differences, the language barrier and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Andrew Carver, Executive Director of International Affairs, shed light on the challenges faced due to the difference in the behavior of police agents in different countries.
“In so many countries, if you are pulled over and want to show some respect to a police officer, you get out of the car and approach the police. But it’s a big matter of safety here in the US,” Dr. Carver said.
He also added that they have been providing orientation to the students through the officers of the Department of Public Safety about their expectations for safety and suggested conversely training the officers about the cultural differences.
SIU also helped admitted international students who couldn’t travel to college due to COVID. “To those who had been offered an assistantship could go ahead and attend remotely with their tuition waiver,” Dr. Carver said.
Bushra Elsnousi, a SIUC graduate student in civil engineering from Sudan, explained that being away from home is itself a challenge. Despite this hardness, he is happy with the activities Center for International Education has been doing. He added, “The Center for International Education is a home away from home.”
“I have studied abroad in two different countries and met people from 60 different countries,” Scarlett Rodriguez, a graduate student in communication studies and Vice President of SIU’s International Student Council and the only SIUC student from the Dominican Republic, said.
She praised the presence of the Center for International Education in helping international students and hopes that this will continue to strengthen.
On a closing note, Rodriguez highlighted the problems faced by international students on launching careers in the US and the hurdles faced by being away from home.
Dr. Mary Weishaar, SIUE Executive Director of International Affairs, explained an incident of a Hindu student who was pulled over by a police officer for having a symbol displayed on their car, which resembled a swastika.
It was later resolved after the officer talked to the Center for International Affairs. SIUE has been helping International Students through different levels of mentoring like having host family, global ambassador’s program, tandem program and through various International Students’ societies.
International physicians have issues with languages since they are unable to convert medical terminologies into English that patients can understand. “There is also a certain amount of xenophobia sometimes,” Dr. Karen Broquet, a SIU School Of Medicine Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education Residency Affairs, said. They are making some progress in solving xenophobia in medical school.
Staff Photographer Subash Kharel can be reached at [email protected] or on Instagram at @pics.leaks.