International Student questions conflicting policies and actions

Alexander Vassilev - Senior Computer Information Science and Spanish major

Alexander Vassilev – Senior Computer Information Science and Spanish major

Alexander Vassilev

Through the frame of the “International Mission:” Internationals on campus – Do we need them?

Have you ever heard an unknown language spoken near you while eating in the Missouri Southern cafeteria or walking down the hallway to class? If you have, there is a good chance that you were in a close proximity to an international student. Currently, there are more than 100 international students attending Southern from several continents. More than 30 of us live on campus and are actively trying to mingle with the locals to better experience the American culture and way of life.

Although the Institute of International Studies is trying to accommodate the majority of our needs and address some of the problems we face, we receive limited support from the university in general. The issues we bring to the attention of the University’s administration are often quickly dismissed and never addressed.

Such an attitude would not be so shocking if University President Julio León did not use every opportunity to promote the international mission of this University.

Almost every day there is an event or a speech that stresses the importance of the international worldview that both students and faculty should have. In the meantime, the administration and León are constantly reminding us that we, the internationals, take no part whatsoever in all this international hype. During this year’s international orientation sessions it was made clear that the international mission was designed for American students only and does not incorporate internationals. Would it be fair if American students abroad were treated in the same way?

In every history class I have taken, the professors urged us to understand the importance of primary sources of information when gaining an accurate and objective picture of any past or present event. In reality, the internationals on campus not only bring rich and diverse cultures to this University but they also serve as active promoters of their countries to American students willing to take advantage of the international mission by participating in study abroad programs. Almost every international student attends one of the universities featured in these programs and hosts American students. By sharing their inside knowledge and experience with other Southern students, internationals can help eliminate or at least reduce culture shock and assist students in making sound decisions while abroad.

This semester we have international students on campus from a wide range of countries: Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Sweden, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Poland, Kenya, Nigeria, Libya, Gambia, Cameroon, Japan, China, Thailand, India, Mexico, Guatemala, Peru and Chile. Each of these people with their day-to-day interactions with other students create and promote genuine interest in their countries that usually leads to more and more students deciding to participate in the international mission by studying abroad.

The impact international students have on this university and its students clearly contradicts the statements that degrade our part of the international mission MSSU takes pride in. I can only hope that in the future we will be recognized as a vital part of this mission and thus treated as regular students, whose problems are properly addressed by the school.