BY COURTNEY DITTO
In the midst of the craziness in the beginning of the first International Student Association (ISA) meeting of the semester, sat one student alone. Looking around, sitting to the side, watching others embrace one another and speaking in different languages and then business marketing major and manager of the ISA from Malaysia, Alyssa Choo, 19, walks up to him with a big smile and invites him over with the rest of the group. The student stands up smiling, and walks over to a table full of ISA members who greet him warmly.
“We want to bring more people in because we know that being an international student, when you come here, you don’t have that many friends. So, we want to recruit everyone,” Choo said. “We’re like a big family, and, education wise, we’re helping each other out, learning different cultures. We encourage people to join us because we don’t want anyone to be left behind.”
WCC’s International Student Association is a student organization in which students from all over the world can join and find support and a better understanding of different cultures. The ISA has students from all over the globe, and includes more than 40 active members.
President of the ISA and psychology major from Montenegro, 20-year-old Marko Delic, explains that the ISA not only makes others feel a sense of belonging but also provides them with education about various cultures.
“In the ISA, we provide one another with a sense of a second family, and give others a look into our cultures. Life is universal, we all struggle and have fun, and it’s sometimes hard for new international students to find that feeling of belonging in a different country and culture, so our slogan for now is ‘Educate U.S. right,’” Delic said. “The ‘u’ and ‘s’ would stand for ‘us’ as well, as we’re sharing and learning the culture and learning different issues so that people don’t judge based on stereotypes beforehand.”
The ISA participates in a number of activities and “hangouts,” including the group being a part of a cultural diversity show last year, assembled by Dean of Diversity and Inclusion Arnett Chisholm. The students are already planning trips for during the semester such as going to the apple orchard, planning holiday parties celebrating the traditions of other countries and planning Diversity Extravaganza, tentatively scheduled for some time in November.
Nearly all activities are planned and put in place by the leadership board of the ISA and have given students a chance to learn and connect with other international students, a connection they wouldn’t be able to find otherwise.
International Student Advisor Devin Streur said “The overall goal of the ISA is to promote the rich diversity of culture of the student body here at WCC. We have students seemingly from every walk of life.”
Streur said it was his love for travel and learning new cultures that interested him in the job as the International Student Advisor, a job he took just seven months ago, but says is a fulfilling experience thus far.
While the ISA is known as a second home to many international students, the association itself is also open to students from the U.S. Ariana Behm, 21-year-old graphic design major and design coordinator of the ISA from Tecumseh refers to the association as “family.”
“I have my family at home, and a family here because of this club,” Behm said. “I get the sense of traveling without going anywhere by learning about the different cultures from my friends.” Tobe Mordi, 20-year-old accounting major and vice president of the ISA from Nigeria is in agreement with Behm and described this blending of cultures in one word: “home.”