Club Profile: International Student Union encourages campus bonding

Posted by Tegan O'Neill

The class of 2014 is the most diverse in the college's history, which also means an increase in international students.

The International Student Union seeks to help acquaint international and local students with each other.

Skidmore News: To begin with, what is the International Student Union?

Stefan Cocorelis (Greece, Public Relations officer): ISU represents the international students at Skidmore College. We try to promote awareness about the international students on campus.

Rohini Alamgir (Bangladesh, president): The message we are trying to send this year is that you don't have to be international to be a part of the international student union. American students are just as international to us as we are to them.

SN: What sort of events does the ISU host to facilitate awareness and integration?

Cocorelis: We have events such as the international dance party that we hosted on Sept. 17 which was a great success.

Alamgir: The ISU takes a trip every year to New York City. The city is such a pivotal location. Everyone has seen it on film when they come from abroad so actually visiting and getting to experience New York City is exciting and so worth it.

We are also thinking about an internationally themed week in November, and we're looking into international film nights.

Cocorelis: We try to hold events that will help Skidmore students learn more about the international students and also the other way around. These events are a great way for international students to interact with American students.

SN: How many international students are at Skidmore?

Cocorelis: This term, there are the most international students ever. I'm not sure of the exact number, but there are at least 30 international kids in every class.

SN: How many students are a part of the ISU?

Cocorelis: This year we got an astounding number of people to join. Around 150 kids signed up this year at the club fair which is something that we are very proud of.

Alamgir: I am really glad that we had such great feedback at the club fair this year. We had so many American kids show up at our first meeting. I was very proud of the Skidmore community.

SN: How did you get the message out this year?

Alamgir: It was awkward. I had a sign on my back that said, "You don't have to be International!"

SN: Is there anything the ISU is doing differently this year?

Alamgir: There are several things. This year we are trying to collaborate with other cultural clubs on campus. We have the Ramadan dinner coming up in collaboration with Hayat on Sept. 30 at Falstaffs.

I think it is important that everyone understands the fundamental message of the ISU. International kids are desperately trying to make our way into this college culture and this society and, although it might look like we are trying to be exclusive, we really are not.

It is not always easy for us to integrate because some of us speak differently, some of us have heavy accents and some of us just don't understand the social cues of this culture. There are so many cultural differences. It is important for us to have everyone understand and accept that.

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