A meeting of the International Students Association on Tuesday discussed how to make Eastern Michigan University’s campus more diverse.
English as a second language professor Svetlana Maksimchak spoke to the students in attendance about her experience working with international students who speak other languages.
“[From] my experience teaching ESL, international students sometimes feel really isolated,” Maksimchak said. “They want to be involved and meet with American students, but the cultural shock and different stereotypes become huge barriers for them.”
Prisca Tjahjadi, a senior international student majoring in hospitality, had the same feeling as Maksimchak.
“I was so scared to talk at first, especially with American people,” Tjahjadi said. “They seem confused about how to approach and communicate with me, too. We do not know the rules in each culture and sometimes we are so afraid of offending each other involuntarily.”
Jonas Acuna, freshman studying occupational therapy feels communication between American students and international students is a two-way street.
“We definitely need to break the stereotypes among different cultural groups,” Acuna said. “I do not think stereotypes only exits among international students.”
He said people should know that not all American students are individualistic and unwilling to reach out to international students.
“Sometimes we just do not know how,” Acuna said.
Maksimchak said that EMU should be building a relationship between international students and American students by creating events that appeal to both groups and extending more invitations to international students.
“Some events are so isolated and targeted on a specific group,” Maksimchak said.
Acuna agreed with Maksimchak’s sentiment, hoping that international students and American students can find a way to meet in the middle.
“The events that we have right now should lead both [American] students and international students into common ground,” Acuna said.
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