Viewpoint #21

“I am someone who values the opinions of others and believe in having a voice.”

This piece was conducted as an in-person interview with a single question asked: “What has been your experience at HWS as a person of color?” The student’s response was transcribed and approved by the interviewee prior to publication.

As an international student I feel like we don’t have enough support and we all try to find our own community which we do sometimes but sometimes we don’t. We do have our own bubble because we rely on that and there’s not much of an outlet to socialize with others. Also, I wish there was more support administratively for us because there’s David Gage [Director of International Student Affairs] who’s great but I just feel like we need more than just handling our visa. For just orientation we do have some cool stuff like being able to stay on campus throughout the year as long as we’re a student which is really nice. We don’t get kicked out. We don’t have to pay for housing which is really cool, but I just feel there’s no real support. And even when I was applying for my OPT visa I went to all the talks and stuff to make sure that I was up to date with all my visa applications to continue staying in the U.S., my student visa expires when I graduate, but there was just… maybe because I just didn’t understand what was going on most of the time and I feel like we are expected to understand things ahead of time and during the talk that he gave about this OPT application but I just feel like at the end of the day I didn’t really understand the timeline of it and I was so frustrated. And he was like “you’re supposed to know all this” so I don’t really understand what’s going on for a long time. And what’s been most helpful was older international students who mentor me, but not everyone has that privilege of having a mentor as an international student it’s interesting.

I feel like a lot of other people maybe have a more rich experience but every time I go to discussions – Nhung Nguyen she holds these really good discussions about what it means to be Asian in America because I come from Malaysia and at least for me in my background we don’t really see, like race wasn’t really a huge issue back home. When I came here like “wow” I had to be a bit more careful about the things I say and race is much more a bigger issue here and at first I didn’t really know how to approach it, but after going through all these discussions with Nhung, all those discussions, I feel like we have a lot to say as people of color, but no matter how many discussions we have it just doesn’t get anywhere. All the time it just doesn’t get anywhere and even when we invite people to hear about it, when we invite people who have power to hear about it and they say they’ll do something about it, but like what happens? They don’t follow through and I don’t understand why, I really don’t understand why. I don’t understand why we don’t have an office of diversity especially when Solomé [Rose, former Interim Chief Diversity Officer] was here and she wasn’t here anymore and everyone was like “Why don’t we have a replacement? Why is there no emphasis?” I thought that was interesting.

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