On Monday 5th of March, all the candidates running for the position of International Officer participated in a hustings chaired by the current Postgraduate officer, Yolanda King.
This year, there are nine candidates running for the position of international officer including; Rox Steven Yan, John Lim, Aanchal Rawal, Christina Mitoko, Chaitanya Mohan, Annette Lai, Kilian Bachmair, Shen-Li and Yi Ling, and Alice and Veronia. If you want a brief introduction of each of the international officer candidates, click here.
The first question addressed to the candidates concerned how they would ensure they cater for all nationalities.
Alice and Veronia said they were both friendly and approachable, willing to talk to everyone and listen to what they have to say, highlighting the importance of face to face communication. They also noted their experience living in different countries.
“We have been reaching out to people, to every international student that we have come across, no matter what”
Shen-Li and Yi Ling revealed that they have learned a lot from the problems they’ve faced as international students themselves. They plan to cater to everyone by ensuring they ask each national group about their needs, wishes, and experience, and then deal with them systematically.
Tina said: “We have been reaching out to people, to every international student that we have come across, no matter what.” She discussed the fact that Postgraduate students often feel isolated and indicated her proposal to merge the welcome week to get more international students involved.
Kilian described himself as multicultural, emphasising his multilingualism (speaking German, French, Italian and English) which will enable him to cater for the many cultures present at the University of Nottingham. Kilian indicated that many international students struggle to integrate into the University community and so he wants to increase participation in societies and sports to encourage the integration of international and home students.
Chai emphasised the importance of increasing representation inside halls as most international students reside in halls for first year. He suggested that approachability is an important quality for the international officer and that this must start in halls.
“45% of students at the University are international students”
Rox began by stating the fact that 45% of students at the University are international students, emphasising the importance of the position. Rox indicated his desire to expand and develop the ‘Global Buddies Scheme’ for an entire year rather than just for the first couple of weeks. He also stated he would cooperate with full-time officers in order to address homesickness particularly and make the lives of international students easier.
The candidates were then asked how they would improve the international student experience.
Alice and Veronia discussed the introduction of mentors for groups of international students to support them during welcome week, particularly with registration and health services. They expanded on this indicating that international students often originate from countries where sexual health is a taboo topic and therefore it is important to introduce the services available to them.
Shen-Li and Yi Ling stated their plan to promote the existing facilities and make them more visible. They suggested the My Nottingham app should be developed in different languages to make it accessible to international students.
“Chai declared that he would start with induction week and create an induction manual in eight major languages”
Tina said she would like to expand the Global Buddies programme to keep it going throughout the year. Also, she would like to introduce a mentorship programme that would help with visas, careers, and exchange programmes.
Kilian indicated he would improve the international student experience through implementing his main aims: to create better bank accounts for international student tackling the problems of unfavourable exchange rates, for example; to reduce membership costs for societies, sports clubs and gym memberships for international students; and to increase support for the English language among international students, offering language orientated careers events.
Chai declared that he would start with induction week and create an induction manual in eight major languages, including vital information for international students such as the location of university facilities.
Rox mentioned that he would produce two to three-week updates on his activity to raise awareness of issues and hold weekly office hours across the University campuses to ensure his visibility among students.
“they want to see flags everywhere, have parades, fairs, cuisine weeks, and give everyone a chance to learn about different cultures”
The final question of the evening asked candidates to consider the one thing they wanted to see by the end of their year as international officer.
Alice and Veronia want to make sure the diversity of the community is clearly visible. They acknowledged that although the University has campuses across three countries, and they see all these diverse people each day, there’s no unity. Therefore, they want to see flags everywhere, have parades, fairs, cuisine weeks, and give everyone a chance to learn about different cultures.
Shen-Li and Yi Ling indicated that they want to see people from different cultures mixing together rather than remaining in a bubble, stating: “we’re so diverse but we’re not learning from each other”. They want people to meet and exchange ideas and have more festivals and celebrations to unite everyone.
“we’re so diverse but we’re not learning from each other”
Tina said: “I think by the end of my year I want everyone to feel valued.” She suggested it’s “your home away from home”, and that everyone should “feel like there’s no ceiling to what you can achieve.”
Kilian repeated and reinforced his manifesto points mentioned previously and added to this that he would improve communication.
Chai emphasised that he wanted to see home students contributing to the cause of international students, ensuring mutual support for both communities and realising the University’s identity as a global University.
Rox highlighted the need for collaboration between different cultural societies to promote integration. He also indicated that international students at other campuses often feel isolated and so he wants to ensure they understand there is a network here that supports them and that they can approach.
Eleanor Gray and Goda Naujokaityte
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