Words of wisdom to students

500px-Globe.svgOn Tuesday May 7, the Asian Pacific Islander Student Association hosted a panel of two professionals who previously studied in higher education as international students. The panel consisted of Bellevue College’s own Faisal Jaswal, assistant dean of Student Programs, and guest speaker Joydeep Hazra, regional product manager for Nokia, a Finnish communications and information technology multinational corporation. The panel took place in the Faculty Commons with the purpose and intent of sharing past experiences with the current international students at BC, providing insight and wisdom for the challenges they may face in the future or are currently facing today. A number of students attended from various backgrounds including Japanese, Italian, Indian, Filipino and Chinese, with majors ranging from international business education communication studies.

In addition to challenges faced by the general student population, international students often travel hundreds to thousands of miles in order to receive a better education, submerging themselves in a country with different cultural norms and expectations. BC provides many support services for international students ranging from help with visas to tutoring services to moral support provided by the counselors on campus.

Panelists gave a wide variety of advice for the audience. “[International students have a] great advantage over all other students,” says Jaswal. “The rate of exchange in information [has] become way faster in recent times and [international] students should take advantage of the opportunity to connect with people all over the world,” Hazra commented in conjunction with Jaswal.

Both panelists agreed that although international students face many challenges that range from culture shock to homesickness, crossing borders could be the most difficult part. “I learned really fast as an Indian from Scandinavia working in Japan never to assume anything about someone else’s culture,” said Hazra. The first thing one should do when entering another country is to “try to learn the culture sensitivities – what the rules of the game are,”Jaswal advised.

The panelists concluded the discussion with general advice for international students to take away with them for their future. “Learn something everyday,”said Jaswal. “It all depends on your lens and what you look at. And be true to yourself. Have a clear sense of purpose and stick to your core values but keep an open mind. As long as you stay malleable, flexible and inquisitive, you will be able to keep up with change.” International students face a lot of discrimination and are considered the minority in many places, but “don’t give up,” says Hazra. “Develop your international identity and as part of your responsibility as a global citizen, be considerate.”

At the end of the panel, students were given an opportunity to speak with Hazra and Jaswal face-to-face on personal inquiries that included topics such as returning to their home country as well as recommendations for further studies.

APISA will continue to host a number of events for international students and others to attend in the coming month. They are a student-run program whose goal is to “provide a platform for students who identify with Asian- American, Asian and Pacific Islander heritages to share their experiences. Meetings are held every Friday from 3 to 5 p.m. To get more information on how to join and learn more about the program, contact the advisor Nick Bradford at nick.bradford@ bellevuecollege.edu.