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Has Holy Cross Failed To Be A Place For International Students?

Staff Writer

Published: Sunday, September 29, 2013

Updated: Sunday, September 29, 2013 22:09

For the past few years, Holy Cross has made an effort to diversify its student body. This move has been welcomed and embraced by our new President, Father Boroughs. In addition, the college mission statement explains, “To participate in the life of Holy Cross is to accept an invitation to join in dialogue about basic human questions.” The President’s Office has also put forth a committee who is there to help foster diversity at Holy Cross. In spite of the efforts made by Holy Cross administrations to diversify the institution, the profile of the class of 2017 tells a different story. It represents the failure of Holy Cross’ administration to attract a larger number of international students.

   In the profile of the class of 2017, there are only three international countries represented. The true reasons regarding why Holy Cross has failed to attract more international students are ones that the administrations can speak to. However from a current international student perspective, Holy Cross is also not an easy place for an international student to spend four years. Yet, in spite of the difficulties that international students might face at Holy Cross, I think it is also important that our administration understands the advantages of having a diverse student body, not only one of one color, race and religion, but also from other places.

   I am one of the only international Muslim students at the college. However, my educational experience at Holy Cross has been difficult. For example, there is no office of international students on campus where our needs can be better evaluated and then represented to the greater Holy Cross community. If Holy Cross has an international students office, I think the larger community would be in a better position to not only understand the needs of international students, but also to accommodate those needs in a reasonable manner. In addition, international students of different religious faiths find it difficult to truly express their feelings or follow their religious obligations on campus. This is in part because Holy Cross has a greater number of one religious group in particular. In the midst of this, the needs of those students with different faiths are not given priority. Furthermore, as an international student, I cannot work outside the campus to be paid according to my visa rules. This in turn means that I cannot go to the Holy Cross Careers Office to help me find a good internship that could ultimately result in a job for me in the future.

   As an international student at Holy Cross, I am the check that looks great on paper, but has no assets to fall back on in the future. Moreover, if I decide to stay on campus during the summer period, I am required to pay $70 per week while working for minimum wage on campus. In the United States, many colleges allow international students to stay on campus during the summer period without any pay. I do not understand why international students who are thousands of miles away from their homes are required to pay this fee at Holy Cross.

   An even greater problem, one not only facing international students, is the location of Holy Cross, which, to my understanding, has also presented difficulties for domestic students. To give an example, this past summer, I was stopped by the Worcester Police right beside the gate on the back side of the football stadium for no legitimate reason. I was going to get some groceries and the police stopped me. In fact, our relationship as a community has been strained with the people of Worcester. I think that instead of facing the problems that we have with Worcester community, we have failed understand the people of Worcester. We all observed how this past summer that our neighbors in front of Gate 7 called bomb squads on us for garbage bags. This shows that our neighbors have no trust in us.

   As a community, we can do better and we could re-think some the ways we do things here on Mount Saint James. I know we have banners hanging around the oval in front of the Hogan Campus Center giving testaments to the international community that Holy Cross has. However, if we do not reconsider some of the ways that we do things here on Mount Saint James, I fear that many international students would leave Holy Cross with a sad heart. It is also important that we stay true to our sayings and our testimonial banners. We cannot have banners hanging around saying that we have an intentional community here at Mount Saint James for others to see when our student body is so divided that the international students here at Holy Cross do not know who is an intentional student and who is not an international student. This fact shows that Holy Cross does not do a good job of introducing international students to one another in the first place. I know we do have the Odyssey Program, but that program is very broad. It is for international students and minority students altogether. We also do not organize a diversity day or such an event in which the cultural foods and the flags of different countries and their ways of living can be represented to the greater Holy Cross community.

   I firmly believe that Holy Cross cannot educate “men and women for others” without exposing them to the greater world that surrounds them. I know we do send more students to study abroad, but we do so only for a year. Whereas by having international students here at Mount Saint James, as part of our community, they would become part of our memories forever. They would be our assets as well to use when we visit their countries. I am sure they would all welcome you with a warm heart into their homes.

   We also know that modern technology has made our world smaller, one that is more connected. Today, many corners of the world are connected through the many technologies that we use. International issues affect Americans as much as they do people in other parts of the world today.

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Mon Sep 30 2013 13:25
A new award-winning worldwide book/ebook to help anyone coming to the US is "What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z: How to Understand Crazy American Culture, People, Government, Business, Language and More." It paints a revealing picture of America for those who will benefit from a better understanding, including international students. Endorsed worldwide by ambassadors, educators, and editors, it also identifies "foreigners" who became successful in the US and how they contributed to our society, including students.
A chapter on education identifies schools that are free and explains how to be accepted to an American university and cope with a new culture, friendship process and classroom differences they will encounter. Some stay after graduation. It has chapters that explain how US businesses operate and how to get a job (which differs from most countries), a must for those who want to work for an American firm here or overseas. It also has chapters that identify the most common English grammar and speech problems foreigners have and tips for easily overcoming them, the number one stumbling block they say they have to succeeding here.
Most struggle in their efforts and need guidance from schools' international departments, immigration protection, host families, concerned neighbors and fellow students, and books like this to extend a cultural helping hand so we all have a win-win situation. Good luck to all wherever you study!

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