Can You Hear the New Immigrant Saying, “You are so welcoming, but do you see me”?

In 2006, when I arrived into the world of student services, the international student scene had just found equilibrium after 9/11.  The homeland security system had heightened the requirements for incoming exchange students, and what was then the role of international student services became too large for the one director.  Asbury did what few other schools designed: to move government and visa work into Financial Aid and keep the care and concern piece with Student Services.  The office for International Student Services provided basic transition support, culture shock, academic success, tax workshop, and a variety of other miscellaneous services to international students.  The DSO oversaw financial aid and visa work.

The ISS, at that point, had been characterized by an assumption: a majority or “normal person” reached and cared for the marginalized rest.  Or in similar institutions an “other” reached the marginalized rest.  The model presupposed an in-group and an out-group. The benefits of this way were clear: you ensure localized care for specific needs, crises, and emergencies, and there are clear boundaries.  The impulse was to offer hospitality baskets to new visa students and to put on culture shock and tax workshops.  And after two or three years many international students begin saying things like, “you are so welcoming, but do you see me?  Do you want all of me?”

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