Finding community on campus can look different for international students, particularly for exchange students who are only at Haverford for a semester. You have so many different options based on what you want out of your time at Haverford. There was a post on this blog earlier in the summer (May 31) about different communities on campus, describing ways to participate in Haverford’s vibrant student community. Here are some additional options for international students:
International Student Orientation (ISO)
ISO itself is a great opportunity to build a support network. You get to meet most of Haverford’s international student population in one place, and then you all spend five days together. We are the strongest form of support for each other; we’ve got each other’s back through the chaos of the semester. I was especially fortunate that my Peer Awareness Facilitator (PAF) on my Customs team was an international student, and it was very helpful to know that someone else understood and validated my experiences here. (Thanks, Kevin!) Additionally, the panels during ISO will describe ways for international students to build support networks on campus.
Later in the year, your International Student Resource People (ISRP’s) will continue to act as a resource. Your ISRP’s will check-in with you through the year and can guide you with their lived experience as upper class international students at Haverford. I’m certain they have lots of important and helpful advice to assist you in navigating challenge through the year.
You can also meet other international students by attending International Student Support Office (ISSO) events through the year. To get information about international student life related events on campus, add this link to your Google Calendar. If you create an affinity group event that you think would fit well on the Calendar, let Natasha Weisz and Denise Allison know, and they’d be happy to add it.
The ISSO is also going to start hosting a new monthly event during the year called ELF, which is an acronym for Every Last Friday. As the name suggests, it’s scheduled 2-4 pm in the MCC on the last Friday of every month of the semester. Rather than being a meeting or event, ELF is intended to be an informal space for international students to meet, and form stronger community ties. The space can really be whatever students would like it to be, so feel free to stop in as little or often as you would like.
The Club Fair can be a great opportunity to find campus groups that you’d like to join. It’s totally fine to be unsure of which clubs you’d like to join, the Fair is a fantastic opportunity to explore potential interests. You can sign up to get information, even if you’re not necessarily invested enough to be a regular participant in a group’s activities. It can be hard to collate information about clubs since we have around 150 of them, but this way you’re less likely to miss a group that you’d be interested in.
Make the Best of the Quaker Consortium
If the affinity group or space you need doesn’t exist at Haverford, odds are, you’ll be able to find something at Bryn Mawr, Swarthmore or the University of Pennsylvania. Around 30% of Bryn Mawr’s student population, 13% of Swarthmore’s student body and around 49% of the University of Pennsylvania undergraduates are international students.
The University of Pennsylvania (colloquially called UPenn) has a massive and diverse international student population (at least compared to Haverford), so they offer a range of events related to international student life. One such event is the Penn Museum’s Festival for International Students is a great opportunity to network with other international students in the Philly area. I’ve never been myself, but my friends have only had good things to say! The event will be held on October 19, 2018. The ISSO will be emailing out more details of this event in early October.
Apart from taking classes at Bryn Mawr and Swat, you can participate in their student life if you’re looking for something closer to campus. They offer a range of great events and meetings. Their master calendars can be accessed here and here respectively.
Haverford has many student government positions, due to the immersive involvement of students in campus activities and the emphasis placed on student voice. This can be another way to get involved in shaping the Haverford community. The campus benefits from the involvement of international students, since we enrich discussions with our unique perspectives. There are positions on Student Council, Honor Council, and a plethora of committees. Student Council has an International Student Representative position, which was created a couple of years ago by international students for themselves. For a list of positions, you can look here, here and here.
At the end of the day though, part of the work of being an international student is creating friendships across difference. I’ve found friends in unexpected places, which is pretty common at a small, tight-knit community like Haverford. There are plenty of brilliant and kind people at Haverford, so it’s just a matter of finding people who are genuinely curious about you and your culture.
This is my last post for the summer. I hope the rest of your summers are lovely, and that your journey to Haverford is smooth! Over the last few months, I’ve witnessed first hand all the work and enthusiasm that is going into preparing for your arrival here at Haverford. I look forward to meeting you on campus, and am so excited that you’re joining our community!
P.S.: Have post suggestions? Here’s the form to submit them! I’m also more than happy to answer any questions, and speak about my experience as an international student at Haverford! I’d love to know more about you as well. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or find me on Facebook.