Page 1

More Than a



International Houses bring together students from various parts of the world.

July/August 2018

International Houses offer a



8 14 16 20

More Than a Place to Stay Deciphering the Visa Process The Global Classroom Ensuring Safety Students of South Asia Managing Money and Minutes

8 35


Iconic Architecture


Creating Connections


Tutor Time


Seeking Support


The Guiding Stars


Living Off-Campus


A Taste of Home RUSTY KENNEDY © AP Images


Editor in Chief Craig L. Dicker Printed and published by Jeffrey R. Sexton on behalf of the Government of the United States of America and printed at Thomson Press India Ltd., 18/35 Delhi Mathura Road, Faridabad, Haryana 121007 and published at the Public Affairs Section, American Embassy, American Center, 24 K.G. Marg, New Delhi 110001. Opinions expressed in this 44-page magazine do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Government.  Articles with a star may be reprinted with permission. Those without a star are copyrighted and may not be reprinted. Contact SPAN at 011-23472135 or


JASON SMITH/Courtesy University of Chicago



or students from India, attending American universities can be both hugely exciting and a bit intimidating. Visas must be procured, bags packed and classes registered for. But, what’s the biggest challenge? Finding a welcoming place, halfway round the world, in which to live, grow, learn and thrive. Luckily, for many, International Houses can be the perfect solution. Also called I-Houses, these institutions are either independent or associated with a university, and provide lodging and enrichment to international students. I-Houses provide “students of different nationalities and diverse cultures with the opportunity to live and learn together in a community of mutual respect, understanding and international friendship,” states the website of International Houses Worldwide, a consortium consisting of 17 I-Houses located around the globe. Megan Amouzou is the director of admissions at International House in New York City, the oldest I-House in the United States. It provides accommodation to students attending Columbia University, New York University, the Juilliard School and other local institutions. “Indian students should consider living at the International House because it is more than a student residence. It is a home,” says Amouzou. “I-House brings together a community of

V O LU M E L I X N U M B E R 4

Courtesy School for International Training

wide variety of learning and entertainment opportunities to Indian students at U.S. universities.


Reviewing Editor Karl M. Adam

Editor Deepanjali Kakati Associate Editor Suparna Mukherji Hindi Editor Giriraj Agarwal Urdu Editor Syed Sulaiman Akhtar Copy Editors Bhawya Joshi, Shah Md. Tahsin Usmani Editorial Assistant Justina Bosco

Art Director Hemant Bhatnagar Deputy Art Directors Qasim Raza, Shah Faisal Khan Production/Circulation Manager Alok Kaushik Printing Assistant Manish Gandhi

Front cover: Photograph and illustration by Hemant Bhatnagar. Research Services : Bureau of International Information Programs, The American Library

Top right: The International House in New York City (above far right) hosts students from around the world and partners with many local educational institutions. Below far right: Former President of Liberia and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at a Sunday Supper organized at the I-House in 2017. Right: Residents of the International House at the University of California, Berkeley (above and far right), at a formal gala event in 2014.


Photographs courtesy International House at University of California, Berkeley

people with a remarkable diversity of interests, opinions and lived experiences,” she continues. “Residents grow and learn together, exploring the similarities that bind them regardless of their race, religion or country of origin.” Amouzou describes the I-House as offering a daily life that adds opportunities and relationships to students’ time in New York City—all of which enhance their academic work. Regular I-House programs include Salon Nights featuring performances by residents and music conservatory students, Resident Round Table Discussions of current events, Language Exchange Program, and formal, family-style Sunday Suppers, a longstanding I-House tradition. The institution also regularly hosts worldclass speakers, including former First Lady of the United States Eleanor Roosevelt, former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela and former President of Liberia and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. New York’s I-House has a rich history, but it is far from the only longstanding I-House in the United States. Take for instance the International House at the University of Chicago, which was founded in 1932 by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., as a

department of the university to offer students, scholars and community members a vibrant array of programs and activities. “Whether it’s a world music or dance performance, a lecture, conference, symposium, an international film festival or a cultural celebration, the International House presents public programming that advances cross-cultural understanding and promotes opportunities for civic discourse on community, national and world affairs,” says Denise M. Jorgens, director of the university’s International House and president of International Houses Worldwide. For students from India, this means learning from speakers like former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, sitting in on a play reading, enjoying live Macedonian folk music and more. The International House also provides a variety of fellowship and internship opportunities, “to help ensure the exceptional geographic, cultural and economic diversity that is central to its mission,” says Jorgens. “Fellowship recipients have the unique opportunity to play a leadership role within the community.” Another historic I-House is the one at the University of California, Berkeley, which was

Photographs courtesy International House, New York City

Go Online


International Houses Worldwide

International House, New York City

International House, Chicago

International House, Berkeley

To share articles go to JULY/AUGUST 2018 5

Photographs courtesy International House, New York City

Left: Dance performance by a few residents of the I-House in New York City. The residents of I-Houses add to the diversity of the community they live in. Below and below left: The I-House in New York City has a variety of housing options, including single rooms and suites.

also founded by Rockefeller, in 1930. Like its neighbors to the east, I-House UC-Berkeley hosts an engaging variety of films, lectures and concerts, and gathers residents and guests regularly for traditional Sunday Suppers. It also takes advantage of the area’s unique beauty, offering regular expeditions to breathtaking national parks in California. “As the second of the Rockefeller-funded I-Houses in the U.S., our facility has a legacy of having housed and hosted many influential alumni,” says its executive director, Hans Giesecke. These include California governors Edmund Gerald Brown Jr. and Pete Wilson. “Eight Nobel laureates have lived here. And, many ambassadors and cultural leaders have also been part of our community,” he adds. I-House UC-Berkeley alumni also include former U.S. Ambassador to India John Kenneth Galbraith, Asha for Education co-founder Sandeep Pandey, President of the India Society of International Law Upendra Baxi and renowned writer Ved Mehta. In the end, the biggest attraction of


International Houses might not be their intriguing programs, welcoming atmospheres or attractive accommodations, but the students themselves. “Residents appreciate the opportunity to live in a diverse and inclusive community that fosters lifelong relationships with those from 100 countries and a wide variety of disciplines,” says Amouzou. “This diversity also serves as an informal incubator, where an engineer can meet a social worker and an idea hatched in the dining room or pub can blossom into an opportunity to experiment with initiatives that will improve lives.” Giesecke echoes the sentiment, describing I-House UC-Berkeley as “a marvelous incubator of natural talent.” “There is an incredible amount of peer-topeer learning that takes place here every day,” he says, “which lasts and endures for a lifetime.” Michael Gallant is the founder and chief executive officer of Gallant Music. He lives in New York City.

Residents grow and learn together, exploring the similarities that bind them regardless of their race, religion or country of origin.

Visa Process


Deciphering the By NATHANIEL FARRAR

With an increasing number of Indians studying in the United States, the student visa

application process


tudents play an important role in strengthening the U.S.-India relationship. They help foster people-to-people ties that benefit both countries and serve as lifetime cultural ambassadors. As the 2017 Open Doors report shows, Indian students continue to see the United States as their preferred destination for studying abroad. In fact, more than 186,000 students from India are currently studying in the United States, an all-time high and a 12 percent increase from the year before.

Before applying The 4,500 accredited colleges and universities

has been made in the United States continue to offer best-in-class simpler and education, robust alumni communities and faster. lifelong engagement with the country. Before

Go Online Visa service

https://in.usembassy. gov/visas/

Apply for a U.S. visa www.ustravel

EducationUSA https://education

applying for a U.S. student visa, an international student must first gain admission to an accredited U.S. academic institution. The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi strongly encourages students exploring higher education opportunities abroad to get in touch with EducationUSA, the U.S. Department of State network of over 425 international student advising centers in more than 175 countries, including seven in India. EducationUSA provides free, accurate and comprehensive information to help match students with the right U.S. academic institutions that meet their priorities.

Application process “Congratulations—you have been accepted into a U.S. university (or college) that fits your long-term goals! Now it’s time to apply for a visa.” This is typically the first notification in the visa application process. Applying for a U.S. student visa in India has never been simpler. Contrary to popular belief, the application process is straightforward and fast. Applicants fill out an online application, pay a processing fee and schedule two appointments—one for submission of fingerprints and a photograph, and the second for an interview. That’s it—three simple steps. All visa-related information is available on our website,

Applicants should be wary of those who push false or outdated information regarding the U.S. visa application process. It’s advisable to do a bit of research and review our website for authoritative information.

Documents and interview On the day of the interview, students need to bring their school-issued I-20 or DS-2019 form, SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) payment confirmation page, valid passport, and DS-160 interview appointment letter. These are the only documents required for a student visa interview. While a consular officer might ask for additional supporting documents, students should remember that the U.S. visa application process is interview-based. Listen to the consular officer’s questions and answer honestly. Students should be ready to describe their academic programs, how they plan to pay for their education and what they hope to do after graduation. Consular officers treat each application as an individual case and issue visas to all qualified applicants.

Learn more We know students might have additional questions about the visa application process. We encourage them to follow U.S. Embassy India on Twitter @USAndIndia and our Facebook page,, where we post visa-related tips and host a live “Visa Fridays” chat with a consular officer. EducationUSA India also has a Facebook page,, with a lot of information specifically for prospective students. The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi welcomes Indian students to pursue their educational goals in the United States. With a streamlined visa process and free EducationUSA resources, achieving these goals has never been easier. Nathaniel Farrar is a Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.

To share articles go to JULY/AUGUST 2018 7

Global Classroom The


Photographs courtesy School for International Training

Students learn about India from the inside out through the School for International Training’s unique study abroad programs.


Left Left and and above above far far left: left: Students Students of of SIT SIT Study Study Abroad’s Abroad’s Agroecology Agroecology and and Food Food Security Security in in the the Himalaya Himalaya program program help help transplant transplant rice rice in in Patuk Patuk village, village, Sikkim. Sikkim. Top Top left: left: Students Students of of aa SIT SIT Study Study Abroad Abroad program program in in India India speak speak to to aa rug rug weaver weaver about about his his craft. craft. Above Above left: left: AA student student (second (second from from right) right) talks talks to local for a public healthhealth program. SIT with residents local residents for a public program. Study Abroad offers two two programs related to to SIT Study Abroad offers programs related public public health health in in India—Public India—Public Health, Health, Gender Gender and and Community Community Action, Action, and and Public Public Health Health and and Human Human Development Development Internship. Internship.

To share articles go to JULY/AUGUST

2018 9


t’s one thing to study about countries like India from a classroom thousands of kilometers away and it’s another thing entirely to experience their cultures firsthand. That’s why, every year, thousands of American students participate in hands-on study abroad programs organized by the School for International Training (SIT).

Experiential education

Go Online School for International Training

SIT Study Abroad


Courtesy School for International Training

Established in 1964, the international organization is located in Brattleboro,

health to sustainable development. The School for International Training describes its programs as “experiential education,” wherein students spend considerable time interacting with local experts, leaders and institutions related to the themes of their programs, like those on natural resources and refugee issues. “SIT programs are known for their support of independent field study,” says Brian Hammer, academic dean for Asia and the Pacific at SIT Study Abroad. “One of the key

Vermont, and has a branch campus in Washington, D.C. It offers field-based academic study abroad programs to undergraduates and accredited master’s degree and certificate programs to graduates and professionals. SIT students come from across the globe, and include recent college graduates as well as experienced and mid-career professionals who want to sharpen their skills. The institute’s close to 80 study abroad initiatives for undergraduate students in more than 30 countries include specially-themed programs focused on India. Each of these is crafted to provide students with unique perspectives on issues ranging from public

outcomes of participating in our programs is in-depth knowledge of a topic of interest to each individual student.” Such personalized areas of focus are always related to the larger themes of each study abroad program, but the specific topic of study is chosen by the students. They complete their semesters overseas by going deep into their chosen topics via a final, four-week Independent Study Project which, Hammer says, strengthens their connections with the people and places of their host countries.

Student stories Denise DeFelice is a Philadelphia native in

Photographs courtesy School for International Training

Above left: Ashutosh Guleri of Kayakalp Himalayan Research Institute for Yoga and Naturopathy in Himachal Pradesh explains the medicinal value of plants to the students of SIT’s Traditional Medicine and Healthcare Practices in India program. Above: Students of SIT’s Social Innovation Entrepreneurship, Design and Development program learn about the work of solar mamas (local solar engineers) of Barefoot College, Ajmer. The college aims to make rural communities self-sufficient and sustainable through solar electrification. Left: SIT students talk to activists in rural Bahraich in Uttar Pradesh about infant mortality rates in India.


Courtesy School for International Training

Below far right: SIT students visit the National Institute of Unani Medicine in Bengaluru as part of the Public Health and Human Development Internship study abroad program. Below right: A SIT Study Abroad student takes a boat ride on the Ganges River in Varanasi. Below: SIT students meet a child rights group in a village in India.


her third year at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is studying health and societies with a concentration in public health. She learned about the School for International Training’s India programs from her classmates in her major and decided to stay in New Delhi to study Public Health, Gender, and Community Action. “I was excited to learn about public health in a global context, instead of from my classroom in the United States,” she says. DeFelice was drawn to India primarily because of the country’s diversity. “I was looking forward to learning a new language, wearing different clothes and adapting to cultural norms that are so different from my own,” she says. “I also wanted to learn about a culture that has been around for much longer than any other I’ve been exposed to.” “Living in Delhi, specifically, has changed

the way I interact with people,” DeFelice continues. “I am more bold, more open and more patient than I’ve ever been.” Elizabeth Curtis grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, and graduated from Williams College in 2017. She traveled to India in 2015 as part of a School for International Training program in New Delhi, called Public Health, Policy Advocacy, and Community. She currently lives here as a recipient of the Fulbright-Nehru Student Research Fellowship. Before traveling to India, Curtis had long known that she wanted to study abroad. When it was time to choose a program, she felt that the School for International Training was a perfect fit. “With an emphasis on excursions, workshops with NGOs [nongovernmental organizations], meetings with local experts and community members, and a final one-month Independent Study Project for students to do

Many students see India as a deeply relevant place in which to develop new knowledge and deeper understanding of not only the country itself, but the future of global relations.

India has greatly impacted my understanding of what government programs and policies could look like for community and reproductive health, as well as challenges they can face,” she says.

Road ahead

As students like Curtis and DeFelice continue to be drawn to India and be inspired by their experiences here, Hammer only sees the SIT Study Abroad programs expanding. “India is a fascinating, dynamic and

Photographs courtesy School for International Training

fieldwork on the subjects they’re most passionate about, SIT was the program that got me excited,” she says. For her final Independent Study Project, Curtis researched community-based reproductive health programs in rural Uttar Pradesh, focusing her efforts on government workers and institutions. She continues that work through her Fulbright fellowship. Like all SIT Study Abroad participants, Curtis lived with host families while abroad. It’s an experience, Hammer says, that can

have positive and significant long-term impacts on all study abroad students. Curtis stayed with two families during her semester in India, and describes her experience in glowing terms, recalling how she used to stay up late at night with her host siblings, asking questions and telling stories. “These are people I still love and spend time with today. Also, they were my most direct form of cross-cultural learning,” she says. “We made deep relationships and bonds that could literally never have happened had I not studied abroad here.” After completing her fellowship, Curtis aspires to attend a nursing school and work as a midwife, beginning a career to promote sexual and reproductive health. “Studying in

historically influential part of the world, and it will continue to grow in importance in global matters,” he says. “Many students see India as a deeply relevant place in which to develop new knowledge and deeper understanding of not only the country itself, but the future of global relations.” The School for International Training is proud of its long history of Indian study abroad programs, Hammer continues, “and we look forward to developing new educational opportunities for our students in the years to come.” Michael Gallant is the founder and chief executive officer of Gallant Music. He lives in New York City. JULY/AUGUST 2018


A U.S. universities employ various

safety measures

and security mechanisms to provide students a stress-free learning environment and a home away from home.

s a prospective student or parent, it is natural to be anxious about the safety and security issues related to studying in a foreign land, thousands of kilometers away from home. Thus, to provide students a stress-free learning environment, U.S. universities have established several processes and systems responsive to the existing and emergent forms of security threats. The U.S. higher education system is among the oldest and finest in the world. This essentially means the country’s education institutions have established, improved and evolved their methods of teaching. Combined with quality student services, they offer a world-class learning environment. A campus visit or virtual tour will reveal state-of-the-art facilities, services, infrastructure and safety mechanisms available to students, faculty and staff. Another unique strength of U.S. higher

education institutions is the importance they place on accessibility and safety of differently-abled students. Buildings are equipped with features like ramps to ensure that students with disabilities can easily use campus facilities. Several U.S. universities and colleges also have dedicated centers for students with disabilities to facilitate their educational attainment. Most higher education institutions in the United States host well-trained campus police, transportation facilities, emergency alarm systems and on-campus housing options. These institutions not only invest time and energy in building and maintaining security systems, but they also work on communicating the inclusiveness of their campuses. In 2016, the #YouAreWelcomeHere campaign rose from the U.S. higher education system to welcome prospective international students. It reiterates that the country is a

Ensuring Safety Right: University Police at Pennsylvania State University is responsible for the safety of its students, faculty, visitors and property, and general law enforcement.


Penn State/Courtesy Flickr


filistimlyanin/iStock/Thinkstock MARTIN ALONSO/Courtesy Flickr

Identity cards All students are issued identity cards that permit entry into the campus. This also helps restrict unauthorized entry to certain parts. On-campus housing is also managed through resident cards that allow entry only into students’ respective dormitories and apartments.

from private players or avail universitybased insurance. In case of need, students can access facilities like doctors or nurses on-call.

Psycho-social wellbeing

Student health service centers offer quality and timely healthcare to all students. All international students are expected to purchase medical insurance

Anubhooti Arora is a Cultural Affairs Specialist-Education at U.S. Embassy New Delhi.

Emergency phone system

7beachbum/Courtesy Flickr

Campus Safety and Security Data Tool

Student health services

Most U.S. universities have well-trained campus police for patrolling, traffic management and general law enforcement on campus.

U.S. campuses usually have blue light emergency telephone systems that are linked to the campus police department. Through this system, the administration ensures students receive immediate help when in danger. Blue light emergency phones are located at prominent locations across campuses and are operational round-the-clock.

Shuttle service and escort system Division of Student Life— The University of Iowa/Courtesy Flickr

U.S. universities have teams of counselors and psychologists adept at providing culturally-sensitive therapy to students. This ensures that students receive emergency and long-term psycho-social support required for their personal and academic development. Another important resource for students is the Campus Safety and Security Data Analysis Cutting Tool, offered by the U.S. Department of Education, which allows them to research crimes reported on U.S. campuses. Prospective students may use it to know the crime statistics for their shortlisted colleges or universities by logging on to While colleges and universities are committed to providing a conducive learning environment, the onus of safety also lies with the students. Certain safety and self-care rules are universal, whether they are living in New Delhi or New York. Students must be active during the orientation week and understand the safety facilities on campus in order to avail these services if and when required. Campus police often run programs on self-defense, peer-to-peer advising and personal safety to help students identify and report any threat to personal security, including sexual violence. Being aware of these services, seeking help when required and reporting crime when it takes place are ways that students can contribute toward creating an environment that caters to the learning, health and safety of all stakeholders.

Campus police

From top: Identity cards, blue light emergency phones located around campuses, shuttle services and counseling services ensure a safe and conducive environment for students in U.S. universities and colleges.


Go Online

safe, diverse and friendly destination for students. “My university regularly conducted safety drills on campus to ensure that all students, faculty and staff were aware of the protocol to be followed during emergencies on campus. We also received alerts of all closures and delayed openings of the university campuses due to inclement weather,” says Bhavvna Jolly, an alumna of the University of Maryland. Key security features on U.S. campuses include the following.

U.S. colleges and universities run shuttles or minibuses throughout their campuses. Students may use these services to safely travel from one part of a campus to another. Universities also offer escort services for students to have an authorized member of the security staff accompany them to and from any location on campus at night.

To share articles go to JULY/AUGUST 2018 15

Students of

South Asia



From Florida to California, young Americans are eager to study about India, its neighbors and beyond.

Above right: The Mandel Center for the Humanities at Brandeis University offers a South Asian Studies Program covering various disciplines like anthropology, history and religion. Far right: Meena Sonea Hewett, executive director of the Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute at Harvard University. Right: Students use creative methods and social media platforms to encourage other Harvard graduates and undergraduates to join the South Asia Institute, which focuses on regional studies, crossdisciplinary research and innovative programming pertaining to South Asia.


merican students often attend worldrenowned universities like Brandeis and Harvard to study economics, political science, history or sociology. But, according to Jonathan Shapiro Anjaria, many also seek something broader—an education that offers illuminating perspectives on humanity, history and the future, beyond the borders of the United States. They dive into the world of South Asian Studies, an academic area that educates through the lens of countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. Anjaria teaches anthropology at Brandeis University in Massachusetts and leads the university’s South Asian Studies Program. His program colleagues include faculty from the History, English, Sociology and Economics departments. Both undergraduate and graduate students choose from diverse classes, ranging from the history of the opium trade to an examination of narratives from the South Asian diaspora. The most popular South Asia-themed course at Brandeis, says Anjaria, is an examination of Hindi film and society. “I was able to learn so much about South Asian culture and about the power films have to influence entire nations,” says Mariel Guzman, an undergraduate student at Brandeis, in an interview to BrandeisNOW, the university’s news digest. “Every movie we watched had a larger commentary about Indian society and culture.”

Widening perspectives Meena Sonea Hewett, executive director of Harvard University’s Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute, relishes South Asian Studies’

potential to create just the sort of multidisciplinary perspective that Guzman describes. “Within South Asian Studies, you can study politics, religion, anthropology,” she says. “It’s very broad, and that can be a great thing when it comes to expanding students’ learning and building their creativity across multiple areas of study.” The institute leverages the inherent multidisciplinary nature of South Asian Studies, as well as Harvard’s many renowned professional schools, by connecting faculty and students for South Asia-based research. For example, if an undergraduate at Harvard begins conducting research on sanitation issues in India, Hewett says, she might link him or her with members of the university’s schools of public health and business, as well as Harvard’s John F. Kennedy

To share articles go to JULY/AUGUST 2018 17

Photographs courtesy Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute, Harvard University

MIKE LOVETT/Courtesy Brandeis University

Above right: Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of Infosys and former chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India, delivers Harvard University’s Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute Annual Mahindra Lecture in 2014. The institute sponsors lectures and conferences by distinguished academic, governmental and business leaders whose work contribute to a better understanding of the challenges facing the South Asian region.


being of South Asian heritage is in no way a prerequisite. Anjaria says a lot of his students feel that India and its neighbors are not discussed enough, neither in high schools nor in the media, and are grateful to have varied course offerings related to the region. At Harvard, Hewett sees students drawn to South Asia because of its fascinating intricacy. “The region is a rich laboratory of problems and issues,” she says. “It’s very complex. And, if you look at any global problem, there is some lesson to be learned from South Asia, purely from the numbers if you will, as there are two

Courtesy Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute, Harvard University

Within South Asian Studies, you can study politics, religion, anthropology. It’s very broad, and that can be a great thing when it comes to expanding students’ learning and building their creativity across multiple areas of study.

School of Government, to increase learning and cooperation among them. “Taking courses or working with students or professors outside of your focus area, but still themed around South Asia, can be hugely rewarding,” says Hewett. “Doing so allows you to deepen your thinking by broadening your approach to learning. That kind of widening of your mind will, in the long run, make it even more clear what you’re trying to do, and make you more resilient and creative when dealing with all sorts of issues.” Beyond presenting intriguing coursework and

sparking symbiotic collaborations, South Asian Studies departments enrich their students’ education in a variety of other ways. For example, fellowships and study abroad opportunities are commonly offered as are guest visits by regional experts and leaders in the field. “One of the defining features of Brandeis’ program is that we actively engage with current political, social and literary conversations in India,” says Anjaria. “We have a vibrant speaker series called the Soli Sorabjee Lectures in South Asian Studies, which allows us to regularly invite to campus scholars, writers and journalists who are shaping India’s public sphere.” Recent speakers have included journalist Naresh Fernandes, editor of, and professor Amita Baviskar from the Institute for Economic Growth, New Delhi.

Why South Asia? Students in the United States gravitate toward South Asian Studies for several reasons, and

billion people living there.” “In terms of the geographics as well,” Hewett continues, “and the complexities of culture, religion and geopolitics, there is always something to be learned.” Adam J. Grotsky, executive director of the U.S.-India Educational Foundation (USIEF) and a former student of South Asian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says he would recommend the course to anyone who has spent time in South Asia, or is simply fascinated by the region. “A South Asian Studies degree could benefit those considering a career in the American foreign service,” he continues, “and, coupled with a business degree, South Asian Studies could also benefit those looking to work in India—one of the largest and fastest-growing economies in the world.” Michael Gallant is the founder and chief executive officer of Gallant Music. He lives in New York City.

Brandeis University

Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute


Soli Sorabjee Lecture Series in South Asian Studies

U.S.-India Educational Foundation

Adam J. Grotsky

Learning About


Courtesy Adam J. Grotsky

Launching a



s executive director of the U.S.-India Educational Foundation (USIEF), Adam J. Grotsky’s job is as complex as it is exciting. He oversees the administration of the prestigious Fulbright-Nehru Fellowships, as well as the enrichment of tens of thousands of Indian students through EducationUSA advising centers. He manages a multi-million dollar budget, supervises five USIEF offices around India, and regularly builds bridges with officials from both India and the United States. And that’s just the beginning. How did he land in a position to exert such positive influence? According to Grotsky, it started with his deep interest in South Asia and a university education in South Asian Studies. Grotsky’s connection with the region began long before his college years. As a young child, he lived with his family in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Fascinated by the experience, he studied abroad in Sri Lanka during high school. This experience, he says, changed his life and further motivated him to learn about South Asia. “I was very fortunate to get admitted to the University of Pennsylvania [Penn], which has one of the oldest and most prestigious South Asia centers in the U.S.,” says Grotsky. He majored in political science, but took many courses in South Asian Studies, including on

the Hindi language. “I spent my junior year abroad in Varanasi through the University of Wisconsin’s College Year in India Program, where I continued my Hindi studies,” he says. “I began studying Indian classical music and completed a fieldwork project on Indian higher education.” “I learned so much during this year,” Grotsky continues, “but felt like I only scratched the surface.” As a result, he decided to pursue a master’s program in South Asian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison [UWMadison]. According to Grotsky, the beauty of South Asian Studies was that it didn’t feel like one discipline, but many. His coursework included classes in sociology, history, religion, language, literature and more. “My goal was to learn as much as I could about South Asia and India, in particular,” he continues, “and an area studies degree was a perfect fit for me.” Grotsky’s explorations of South Asian Studies helped him launch a successful international career. “Immediately after graduate school, I was hired as the resident director for the College Year in India Program,” he says. “I don’t think I would have been able to do this job effectively without the training and education I had received at UW-Madison and earlier at Penn.” —M.G.

Photographs courtesy U.S.-IIndia Educational Foundation

Go Online

Right: Adam Grotsky, executive director of the U.S.India Educational Foundation. Below right: Grotsky (right, back row) with FulbrightNehru English Teaching Assistants during their midyear workshop in New Delhi in 2017. Below: Grotsky interacts with a student at the annual USIEF-EducationUSA Alumni Fair 2017, held in New Delhi.




he United States has some of the best higher education institutions in the world. Attending one of these can be an enriching experience. It can also be an expensive affair. Students, thus, need to manage their time and money well to make the experience enjoyable, yet affordable. Here are a few tips for that.

Research well

Students at U.S. universities need to learn to


their time and money to sustain themselves.

“Budgeting for studying in the U.S. starts the minute you choose your institution,” says Priya Rai, a final-year computer science student at The University of Texas at Austin. When she was applying to colleges, the brochure of an Ivy League institute mentioned a particular scholarship for all accepted students. But, when she contacted the college, she was told the scholarship was no longer available. Afraid of going beyond her budget, Rai chose an institution that would give her quality education as well as ensure her loans remained manageable. Rai’s advice for international students is simple: “Hunt for scholarships, and apply for as many as you are eligible for.” Students should ask professors and graduate coordinators of the departments they are interested in for guidance on fees and available scholarships. Crosscheck all the information and, before applying, make sure the financial aid is still available. “Scholarships often require students to showcase the research we do as part of our course work,” says Rai. “They usually mean steep discounts on tuition or travel costs. This is the money you get for doing well in your courses.”

Work on campus Working on campus is an ideal option for inter-

national students. Campus jobs involve work students can do in different departments that are on campus and can range from being a research assistant of a professor to working in the college cafeteria. The paycheck is issued by the university. Students must have valid documentation to work on campus and maintain a full course of study. Universities do not permit working off-campus without specific permission from the International Office and/or from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The international offices of colleges can be a great resource for guidance and information on work options, based on eligibility and sustainability. International students are usually allowed to work for 20 hours during the fall and spring semesters, and for more during summer and vacation periods. “So, summer can be the time to pick up more hours and save for the other semesters,” says Himanshu Sharma, a computer science Ph.D. student at The University of Texas at Austin.

Study and spend smarter Universities often hold workshops on time management and offer various resources to help students create a realistic budget and stick to it. Sharma advises students to attend a few. For example, at one of these workshops at his university, Sharma learned how to use free apps like Splitwise and Excel sheets for finance and time management. He began noting his daily expenditures on Splitwise. This routine made him realize he was spending a lot on buying coffee. He now carries his own coffee to the campus. Rai seconds Sharma on attending these workshops. She says she learned effective note-taking

Managing Mo




and smarter ways to read, in one such workshop. “I used to procrastinate a lot,” she says. She realized that anxiety was keeping her from doing her work on time. She sought help and got a professional counselor to assess her study habits. Most colleges offer such counseling sessions for free. Rai also advises students to use the time between classes wisely. “Use it to do homework. Get as much work done as possible while you are on campus.”

when sandwiches and coffee had eaten away most of the money I had budgeted for the month in about two weeks.” So, learning basic dishes that can be prepared on a simple hot plate can definitely be useful. But, as Rai cautions, “Never forget why you are there. Use both time and money carefully. Unlike money, time cannot be earned back.” Paromita Pain is a journalist based in Austin, Texas.

Stay and cook Besides the cost of education, living expenses


are also substantial. Dormitories on campus, being closer to departments, are often more expensive than options outside. Shared living spaces outside, on the university shuttle routes, can be just as good. Several universities also offer graduate housing at very reasonable rates. Food may not seem expensive, but they add up as well. “When I was moving from India, my mother packed in a pressure cooker,” says Jhanvi Sharma, a science major at a state university in California. “I realized its value after two months,

ney and Minutes Go Online

The University of Texas at Austin

To share articles go to JULY/AUGUST 2018 21

Iconic Architecture U.S. colleges and universities stand as examples of not only high educational standards, but also of

architectural beauty.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

THOMAS HAWK/Courtesy Flickr

The Ray and Maria Stata Center for Computer, Information and Intelligence Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was built in 2004. Designed by renowned American architect Frank O. Gehry, the center is built on the site of Building 20, a temporary timber-framed building constructed on the MIT campus that served as a breeding ground for ideas during World War II.



hen we think of a college campus, we usually conjure up images of grand brick halls, grass quads and clock towers. Many campuses have these features. Others take them to the next level. In the United States, several universities and colleges have become world-class tourist attractions, especially for architecture lovers. The campuses reflect the diversity of the country itself; whether in terms of location, size, design or features. They demonstrate a powerful blend of tradition and modernity, through a mix of classical, Gothic, neoclassical and modern architecture. And, they are home to stellar collections of buildings designed by renowned architects like Frank Lloyd Wright and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, architectural firms like RAMSA (Robert A.M. Stern Architects) and Morphosis, and even President Thomas Jefferson. From thousands of American college campuses, large and small, here are a few campuses with architecture that represent iconic styles and house absolute don’t-miss buildings in evocative settings.

To share articles go to JULY/AUGUST 2018 23

THOMAS HAWK/Courtesy Flickr

Courtesy Wikipedia

Right and below: The striking design of the Ray and Maria Stata Center for Computer, Information and Intelligence Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology features tilting towers, many-angled walls and whimsical shapes. These challenge much of the conventional wisdom of campus building designs.


Beyond My Ken/Courtesy Wikipedia

Above and below: The University Center of The New School in New York City is a 16-story building certified with a LEED Gold rating. The University Center has a garden on its seventh-floor roof (right) as well as state-of-the-art classrooms, a library research center (below right), an auditorium, a 600-bed student residence, a cafetaria and an event cafĂŠ.

Photographs by Nylandmarks/Courtesy Wikipedia

The New School



Photographs by PETER AARON/Esto

Bard College

Above and below: The 107,000-square-foot acoustically-tuned Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College in New York features a very striking, undulating stainless steel roof made of 5,647 shingles. The center houses two theaters, a dance studio, a theater studio and professional support facilities. Its Sosnoff Theater (left) features a proscenium stage that accommodates opera, music, dance and theater. The room is hexagonal, with walls that bow slightly inward to create convex surfaces that best diffuse sound.


MICHAEL FERNANDES/Courtesy Wikipedia

University of Notre Dame

MATTHEW RICE/Courtesy Wikipedia

Below: The Main Building of University of Notre Dame in Indiana is considered the centerpiece of its campus. Built in 1879, the Golden Dome was added to this building in 1882. Right: The magnificent, Gothic-inspired Basilica of the Sacred Heart is located in the center of the university’s campus. Its stained-glass windows were first installed in 1873, giving Notre Dame the largest collection of 19th-century French stained glass in the world. The original Gothic Revival altar, designed by FrocRobert and Sons of Paris, was displayed at the Philadelphia Exposition in 1876, where it won a first premium for design.


Flagler College

STEVEN MARTIN/Courtesy Flickr


Bottom left: Flagler College, formerly the opulent Hotel Ponce de León, is built in the Spanish Renaissance Revival style. Bottom right: The Flagler Room, formerly the Women’s Grand Parlor, has handcrafted Austrian crystal chandeliers, a clock containing the largest piece of intact white onyx in the Western hemisphere, original hotel furniture and art, as well as personal photos and mementos of Henry Flagler and his family.

Photographs by MAKSIM SUNDUKOV/Courtesy Wikipedia

Below: The dining hall at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida, is home to one of the world’s largest collections of Louis Comfort Tiffany stained-glass windows, and handpainted murals on the walls and ceiling. Built in 1888 by industrialist and railroad pioneer Henry M. Flagler, the former grand resort is today the centerpiece of the college and has been designated as a National Historic Landmark.

JAMES LOESCH/Courtesy Wikipedia

Princeton University

Above: Opened in November 1756, Princeton University’s Nassau Hall was designed to withstand the variable climate of New Jersey. It was built in the GeorgianColonial style popular at the time, choosing locally quarried sandstone as building material for the 26-inch thick walls. It has been the cornerstone of Princeton University for more than two centuries, withstanding war, fire and several renovations. It was named a National Historic Landmark in 1960.

University of California, San Diego

LOU STEJSKAL/Courtesy Flickr

O PALSSON/Courtesy Flickr

Below left: Geisel Library, the University of California, San Diego’s main library building, resembles a hovering spaceship. The reinforced-concrete-and-glass distinctive modernist building rises eight levels above the ground in an inverted pyramid. The library was named for Audrey and Theodor Geisel, better known by his pen name Dr. Seuss, in 1995, for their generous support of the libraries and their commitment to increasing literacy levels. Below: A life-size bronze Dr. Seuss statue outside the library, depicting him sitting at a desk next to a seven-anda-half-foot-tall bronze statue of one of his most famous creations, the Cat in the Hat.


Photographs by Photographer/Courtesy Flickr ERIC ALLIX ROGERS/Courtesy Flickr

Illinois Institute of Technology

Above right: S.R. Crown Hall, designed by renowned German American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, is considered a modern masterpiece. The column-free open plan of the main floor of Crown Hall demonstrates his innovative concept of creating universal space that can be infinitely adapted to changing use. Its expansive size allows individual classes to be held simultaneously without disruption, while maintaining creative interaction between faculty and students. A National Historic Landmark, it is home to Illinois Institute of Technology’s College of Architecture.

University of Alabama

LARRY MILLER/Courtesy Flickr

Above: The McCormick Tribune Campus Center, designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, at the Illinois Institute of Technology. The design includes a noise-absorbing concrete and stainless steel tube (top right) that encloses a 530-foot stretch of the Chicago Transit Authority’s elevated Green Line commuter rail tracks, passing directly over the onestory campus center building.


Right: Located under the south side of the glass dome, the 8,000-squarefoot Grand Reading Room of the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library has seating capacity for 180 users and is designed for quiet study and reading.

TOM ROSSITER/Courtesy University of Chicago

ROBERT KOZLOFF/Courtesy University of Chicago

University of Chicago

STEVE DRISKELL/Courtesy Flickr

Above: The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago features a soaring elliptical glass dome capping a reading room, state-of-the-art conservation and digitization laboratories, and an underground highdensity automated storage and retrieval system. The library allows for the retrieval of materials within an average time of 3 minutes through use of robotic cranes. The lower portion of the dome is transparent to provide unobstructed visibility between the inside and the outside, while the shaded upper area blocks solar heat.

Left: The President’s Mansion at the University of Alabama is one of the campus’ most stunning examples of Greek Revival style. Completed in 1841, the mansion is one of the oldest surviving buildings on campus and is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.




Alumni networks

Courtesy U.S.-India Educational Foundation

Courtesy Harvard Club of India

are vital for prospective and current students at U.S. higher education institutions.

lumni networks are a long-standing tradition of educational institutions in the United States. They instill a sense of pride and belonging in the members and others associated with universities, often playing the role of extended families. They also have an enabling impact on the professional trajectory of students and other stakeholders. While alumni networks have a widereaching effect, they create a lasting impact on three primary stakeholders: current and prospective students, the institution and the alumni themselves.

Current and prospective students 

Top: Anirudh Suri (left), president of Harvard Club of India, at an alumni event in New Delhi. Top far right: Elizabeth Dennis (third from left), program officer at the U.S. Department of State, interacts with alumni chapters in India at a meet hosted by EducationUSA@USIEF in 2017. Above: Craig L. Dicker, Cultural Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy, interacts with visitors at USIEF-EducationUSA Alumni Fair 2017, held in New Delhi.


Best Practices From Alumni Chapters in India      

Regular newsletters or emails. Events and talks by speakers. Connections via social media platforms. Alumni-led sessions for Indian students. Inclusion of spouses in activities. Scheduled events on weekends.

Create opportunities for engagement: Alumni networks provide opportunities for student engagement through mentoring programs, networking events and information sessions on U.S. higher education. Anirudh Suri, president of the Harvard Club of India in New Delhi, says, “We are very active as a club. We organize one Young Harvard event each year, where prospective students, current students, faculty and alumni of Harvard University come together to spend time with each other.” Suri adds that they are active on social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. “Current and prospective students often reach out to us with queries. We also typically host a Q&A session for all admitted students in April or May to help them make their decisions.” Enhance career prospects: Many graduates rely on their alumni groups to direct them to new career opportunities and for advice, subject matter expertise and insights on various aspects of professional opportunities. A strong network can help these students make the right connections and decisions. Build cultural ethos: Alumni associations foster a sense of belonging to a community of students with shared experiences. Suri says, “The club [Harvard Club of India] ensures that our alumni build strong formal as well as informal bonds with each other, so that the camaraderie we all shared with each other at the university continues here in India as well.”

The institution 

The alumni 

Create opportunities for continued learning: Some well-established alumni networks provide learning opportunities for professional development of their members through university-organized programs and workshops. Suri provides an apt example of this: “The club [Harvard Club of India] serves as a platform for faculty members visiting India to meet and share their research and work with alumni as well as other relevant bodies. We also serve as a platform for alumni to contribute to Indian society more actively. We do this by engaging with the executive, judicial and legislative arms of the Government of

India. We hold events with speakers from these institutions as well as provide policy inputs where appropriate.” Increase social and professional involvement: Alumni networks provide ample opportunities for social and professional engagement. They organize events and engage in administrative and policy-building committees, as well as alumni boards.


Go Online

Be brand ambassadors and key influencers: Alumni have a strong connection with their universities. Therefore, they are likely to be champions for their universities’ offerings, philosophy, culture and values. Assist in recruitment efforts: Alumni aid in the universities’ recruitment efforts by accompanying representatives at events, conducting student interviews and meeting students at admission receptions. For example, the Alumni Association of Princeton University conducts interviews for student applicants and organizes a send-off party for their admitted students. Nisha Berlia, president of the MIT Club of New Delhi, says, “For the last two years, we have been having a summer send-off. Many of our alumni are mentors whom prospective students can reach out to through an official MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] program.” Raise funds: Alumni have the potential to be benefactors by helping institutions with endowments. Many specialized centers of learning at universities are named after alumni who have made significant contributions to their establishment and enhancement. Additionally, alumni associations can support their universities as influencers in raising funds for scholarships and grants.


Courtesy EducationUSA@USIEF, New Delhi



Best practices from EducationUSA India EducationUSA, the U.S. Department of State’s network of international student advising centers, has a unique opportunity to work closely with alumni and alumni networks. Here are some of the best practices from its collaborations.  Annual alumni fairs with representation from over 60 U.S. universities.  Alumni fairs with diplomats from the U.S. Mission in India.  Mentoring sessions with current students and alumni.  Panel discussions at pre-departure orientations.  Special sessions with alumni who have settled in India.  Meets with U.S. university alumni chapters. These platforms provide opportunities for alumni associations to spread awareness about their role, promote their universities, engage with students, discuss their challenges and share best practices. Although alumni face time and geographical constraints, owing to the demands of their professional and personal lives, they are committed to seeking innovative ways to engage with other members and students. As Suri sums it up: “These associations can play an integral role in keeping the alumni engaged with their university, current and prospective students, as well as fellow alumni. Alumni associations, in that sense, play a nodal role of connecting various parts of the university with each other.”

U.S.-India Educational Foundation

Harvard Club of India


MIT Club of New Delhi


Alumni Association of Princeton University

Aastha Virk Singh is an EducationUSA Adviser at U.S.-India Educational Foundation (USIEF). To share articles go to JULY/AUGUST 2018 33

Tutor Time

Courtesy Minnesota State University Moorhead



Tutoring services at U.S. universities help international students with different aspects of academic life.


he decision to study in the United States comes with a lot of lingering questions like “What if I need help with my studies—with my English, essay writing, mathematics or physics?” Luckily, U.S. universities anticipate these concerns and are ready to meet their students’ needs, should they arise. They offer international students a variety of tutoring services to help with different aspects of academic life. International student services at U.S. universities provide support to international students and their spouses for acclimatizing to American life and culture, and for English

language. English as a Second Language (ESL) tutoring helps improve pronunciation, reading, writing and listening comprehension skills. ESL tutoring is provided in different ways by different U.S. universities—some offer individual one-on-one help, some provide a tutor for small groups of two to three people with similar skills and others find adequate conversation partners with a similar level of proficiency and background. The international student services also help in familiarizing students with American culture through a variety of classes and workshops. At the International Tutoring Center in

Go Online International Tutoring Center at Northeastern University

Academic Assistant Program at Minnesota State University Moorhead

Left: To provide a continuous learning environment, Minnesota State University Moorhead provides tutoring services to all its students through the Academic Assistant Program.

Northeastern Writing Center

BAKS/iStock/Thinkstock writingcenter

Northeastern University in Massachusetts, for instance, students can attend different Language and Culture Workshops focusing on American culture, English language skills and tips for academic success. Some of these workshops help teach students how to use academic sources and citations, time management, motivation and goal-setting, and even basic cooking. Additionally, the tutoring center conducts Reading Workshops. These six free, noncredit classes help students develop reading habits to improve their concentration, as well as learn techniques to understand and remember new vocabulary, among others. Many U.S. universities also offer help with academic subjects. At Minnesota State University Moorhead, the Academic Assistant Program provides tutoring services to all its students for a variety of subjects. Twice a week, they meet with a tutor, in groups of two to three, to work on their subjects. These student tutors are recommended by their academic departments and have International Tutor Certification. The services are provided by the Academic Support Center, and tutoring groups are formed at the beginning of each semester.

Some academic departments at Minnesota State University Moorhead have their own tutoring services, on a drop-in basis. For example, if students need tutoring in mathematics, physics, accounting and finance, or paralegal studies, they can go directly to their respective departments. U.S. universities also offer help to all students with essay writing at writing support centers, whether English is their second or native tongue. The Northeastern Writing Center provides both online and in-person help with essay writing. University tutors assist students in developing writing strategies during the appointments. The tutors work with them at various stages of the writing process and teach them how to respond to a variety of texts, thus improving their reading and writing proficiency. International students are encouraged to take advantage of these services at the tutoring centers, as they provide students with the extra help necessary to thrive academically at U.S. educational institutions. Natasa Milas is a freelance writer based in New York City.

To share articles go to JULY/AUGUST 2018 35


U.S. university

counseling offices help international students adapt to campus life.


tudying in a different country can be a lifechanging experience and the highlight of a student’s time at a university. But along with the adventure and exploration inherent to studying abroad comes a lot of adjustment, which can be overwhelming. “The challenges international students face vary,” says Jihad Aziz, director of University Counseling Services at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). “Some common issues students may face at VCU are related to language barriers, homesickness, dealing with stereotypes, adjusting to how the U.S. views and deals with issues of race and gender, finding connection with other students, and adjusting to the U.S. system of education…not to mention adapting to dietary changes.” While these are common, Aziz says, the university recognizes that “each student’s experience is different, and it would be a mistake to assume that all international students struggle with the same issues.” To meet the unique needs of international students, most universities in the United States have counseling offices, which provide an array of mental health services. At Virginia


Commonwealth University, students are seen the same day they seek services, says Aziz. “We meet with them and then make a recommendation about possible treatment options, such as individual therapy, group therapy or, if necessary, a community referral,” to a provider outside the university. The counseling office at the university works closely with the VCU Globe office, which provides primary support for international students, addressing practical concerns like opening a bank account and helping navigate the academic world. “We recognize that therapy in its current U.S. format may not be appealing to some international students, so we try to find ways via outreach to provide support. We are aware of their unique needs and try to work closely with the programs that help support their success at VCU,” says Aziz. A similar partnership between university offices exists at The University of Iowa, where international students can turn to both the International Student and Scholar Services office and the University Counseling Service office for support. While the student and


Seeking Support

Below: The University of Iowa offers counseling services and group health workshops (bottom) to its students to create a healthy environment on campus.

Below right: Tacoma Community College in Washington State provides free, confidential counseling to all its students.

Photographs by BEN LEWIS/University of Iowa

Washington State Library/Courtesy Flickr

Below left: Students of Kansas State University in Manhattan “pet-away” their stress with the help of Purple Paws and the university’s counseling services.

Go Online

University Counseling Services at Virginia Commonwealth University

International Student and Scholar Services at The University of Iowa

University Counseling Service at The University of Iowa

scholar services office conducts programs to orient and engage international students in the community, the counseling service office focuses on their emotional health. International students can participate in conversation groups or seek more formal counseling. “Any international student can come to the conversation groups,” says Kathleen Staley, a staff psychologist at The University of Iowa’s counseling service office. “They can practice English and get to know people. It’s supportive and caring.” Apart from the conversation groups, it also has counseling groups. These are open to all students—international and American students are integrated—and focus on specific social and emotional goals. Students can stay in them for as long as they like: A few students have participated in their counseling groups for years, says Staley. Brief individual counseling, for 8 to 10 sessions, is available as well. “When someone comes to counseling services, we do an initial assessment. We meet to see what’s going on and what will be the best treatment modality. Sometimes, we know

right away that someone needs open-ended, long-term therapy. There are a lot of private therapists in the Iowa City area and we have a case manager who helps students access them. Sometimes, people do brief therapy here and then want more or they see someone in town and want to do more, so they do a group here,” explains Staley. All services of the counseling office at The University of Iowa are free for registered students and, in some cases, international students can receive therapy in their languages. Currently, there are therapists who can work in English, Spanish and Mandarin. While counseling offices definitely help international students deal with the culture shock of coming to the United States, they also help with something perhaps less anticipated—what Staley has experienced herself and calls “reverse culture shock.” “Thirty years ago or so, I was in the Soviet Union for five weeks. It was the most marvelous experience. When I came home, I had great difficulty adjusting back to U.S. culture. I was angry, depressed, sad and couldn’t cope. A woman in the international office here said, ‘I know what’s happening to you…it is called re-entry adaptation,’” recounts Staley. Based on her experience, she tells international students they might have a similar reaction when they return home. They might feel they’ve changed and grown while their friends at home haven’t. They might also find it hard to understand that they had a really positive experience abroad and no one wants to hear them talk about it in detail. Aziz says the Globe office at Virginia Commonwealth University provides primary support to international students returning home, and the university counselors also work with international students who are undergoing a treatment to help make their transition back home smooth. “Some issues may be related to re-entering a culture they may not feel as connected to, finding mental health services and support when mental health struggles may not be seen in a positive light, or addressing issues of safety,” he says. “These are just a few examples of the kind of support we offer international students returning home.” Carrie Loewenthal Massey is a New York Citybased freelance writer.

To share articles go to JULY/AUGUST 2018 37


Guiding Star


Courtesy UC Berkeley International Office



he transition to college is a big adjustment for all students, whether they are in their home country or abroad. Recognizing this fact, U.S. universities and colleges sponsor mentorship programs to help incoming first-year and transfer students navigate their new school environment. “Facing the challenges of academic competition, finding a new circle of friends and deciphering the mysteries of the place they now call ‘home’ can be daunting for any student and, particularly, for international students,” says MinhAn Nguyen, coordinator of the International Student Peer Mentorship Program at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley). The impetus for the program was the university’s 2011 International Students’ Needs Assessment, which revealed the need for targeted support for incoming international students. For example, an international student might bring a cultural view of a professor or attitude toward counseling that could prevent him or her from realizing that it’s okay to ask for help, or make him or her hesitant to seek counseling if it’s not considered normal in the home country, says Nguyen.

2011 International Students’ Needs Assessment



Go Online

Mentorship Program at UC Berkeley

Courtesy UC Berkeley International Office


Mentorship programs at U.S. colleges and universities, like at the University of California, Berkeley, help new and transfer students navigate their new school environment.

Now in its fourth year, the International Student Peer Mentorship Program is delivering on its mission to support international students’ academic and personal adjustment to the university through peer mentoring throughout their first semester. Annually, the program serves over 300 incoming students from 37 countries, significantly increasing the likelihood of them staying through graduation. Indispensable to the program are the more than 30 carefully-selected student volunteers who serve as mentors. During the summer, experienced students reach out to incoming international students to answer their questions about campus life and set the stage for helping them through their first semester. About 10 incoming students are matched with one mentor to create small communities of support, based on shared interests, passions or academics. The mentors contact their mentees through weekly one-on-one conversations, emails and texts, and offer activities designed to connect them to campus, and help them survive and thrive in the college. Initial training for mentors focus on communication skills and practice with probable scenarios they might experience. The program also equips them with knowledge of resources available to mentees, by inviting international student counselors or advisers as well as staff members of university health and career centers to speak at monthly mentor meetings. “Mentors also learn about how mentees, often top students at their high school, can become insecure about their ability to succeed academically [imposter syndrome] and could benefit from counseling support. We send mentees a weekly ‘Be Your Best Bear’ [in reference to Oski the Bear, the University of California mascot] email, with guidance tips like speak up in class, take advantage of office hours, follow these research tips on using resources and avoid plagiarism, and other useful reminders for first-year students,” explains Nguyen. She feels honored to work with mentors who are dedicated to giving back despite their own academic load. “We find that each year, one-fifth of our mentors

were previously mentees in the program,” says Nguyen. “As noted by an international student’s comment in our mid-year survey, ‘I learned a lot from my mentor helping me throughout my freshman year. She made me more confident in my major choice and let me see clearly what opportunities I have at UC Berkeley. I want to be a peer mentor and help other freshmen get accustomed to their college life and make friends with them.’” Nguyen adds that her office comes in contact with many student assistants hired by the University of California who list their peer mentor experience on their résumés. She asserts the “fun factor” is equally important to an international student’s social adjustment to college. She mentions a variety of monthly activities offered by the International Student Peer Mentorship Program in addition to the kickoff pizza party in August and the fall community volunteering, “through the Berkeley Project, a campus-wide community service project, which gives students a sense of what’s out there in the community.” “In addition, students can go ice skating, attend mentor-initiated events and participate in some of our ‘homegrown’ team competitions. This year, we created some pretty silly activities like the backward coin toss, and egg-and-spoon relay races, based on YouTube’s ‘Minute to Win It’ challenges. Teamwork and the promise of an ice cream reward forced participants to get out of their comfort zone and enjoy just being college kids,” says Nguyen. She admits the challenge of maintaining the level of student engagement in their program events as the semester progresses. “I find the tremendous participation in our August pizza party icebreaker dwindles until our final formal program group activity. I know it’s partly due to the preparation for finals, but I’ve realized it also means mentees have adjusted, made connections and formed new communities. And, I guess, that means they have successfully transitioned to life at UC Berkeley—which is our primary goal.”

Far left: MinhAn Nguyen, coordinator of the International Student Peer Mentorship Program at the University of California, Berkeley. Below far left: The mentorship program at the university serves over 300 incoming students from 37 countries annually. Above: Students train to be mentors for the Fall 2018 program of the university.

Hillary Hoppock is a freelance writer, former newspaper publisher and reporter based in Orinda, California. To share articles go to JULY/AUGUST 2018 39

AMANDA ODESKI © AP Images/Duluth News Tribune KIM KIM FOSTER-TOBIN © AP Images/The State

Penn State/Courtesy Flickr MORRY GASH © AP Images

housing. They have offices which help with apartment searching and lease signing, usually called Off-Campus Housing or Off-Campus Living, or under the umbrella of Housing or Housing and Food Services. Freshmen and sophomore students are usually more inclined to live on campus, while junior and senior students as well as graduate students tend to live off-campus. At Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, for instance, many students prefer off-campus housing: about 52 percent of undergraduates and 94 percent of all graduate students. here is no right answer when it comes to The office of Off-Campus Living at the choosing between living on or outside the university helps students, staff and faculty find campus during your college years, as both appropriate housing in Ithaca by providing options have their pluses and minuses. housing assistance, education and referral However, if you decide to live off-campus, services. “We manage a listing website that we there are several factors to consider. direct students to as well as a very active Living off-campus affords more privacy, closed Facebook group, where people post more room to study and relax and, often, listings for housing, sublets and roommates,” better integration into the community of the says a staff member of the office of Offtown or city where students attend college. Campus Living at Cornell University. However, it brings more responsibilities, as Once students find their ideal housing students need to look for accommodation, sign option, the staff or peer advisers at the office a lease, deal with utilities, groceries, cleaning continue to guide them through the rental and so on, all by themselves or with process. “We also guide them through the roommates. Even though learning to manage lease signing process, informing them of their these issues may be a good skill to acquire, rights and providing them with checklists and students living on campus don’t really have to other resources to ensure that their off-campus deal with them. Hence, it is an important living experience will be a smooth one.” factor to consider while choosing between If students wish to live off-campus, but do living on or off-campus. Also, while living on not want to live alone in an apartment, there campus brings you closer to your classrooms are many other options, like seeking a and campus events, living off-campus roommate or living in a cooperative housing. provides a refuge from being solely immersed The office of Off-Campus Living at Cornell in college life. University is available to students even before If you think that living off-campus suits you they arrive in the United States. “We are easily better, you will have some work to do before accessible via phone and email for any you can settle into your new apartment. questions students may have. And, our website Thankfully, you will not be alone in this contains a wealth of information that students process. Most U.S. universities provide can use to find appropriate housing,” adds the services for students who wish to live offstaff member. campus. Often, on-campus housing is reserved At the State University of New York at for incoming freshmen and there’s limited Albany, also known as the University at space for other students, especially graduate Albany, students interested in off-campus students. But, universities go out of their way housing are invited to use The Housing to make sure everyone finds appropriate Registry. “To assist students with finding


Exploring the

pros and cons

for students opting to reside outside their U.S. university campus.

Above and above right: Living off-campus affords more privacy and room to study and relax, a break from being solely immersed in college life and, often, better integration into the community of the town or city where students attend college (top and top right).




Off-Campus Living at Cornell University


Off-Campus Department of Residential Life at University of Albany

Housing for International Students at Southern New Hampshire University

Top right: Campus Town at The College of New Jersey in Ewing Township includes apartments for students, along with facilities like a fitness center, shops and restaurants. Above right: An Off-Campus Housing Information Fair at the University of Memphis in Tennessee, where students, faculty and staff can meet housing representatives and other related vendors.

UniversityofMemphis/Courtesy Flickr

Go Online

off-campus housing, the Neighborhood Life Office works with a third party vendor, The Housing Registry, to aid in the housing and roommate search. The Housing Registry search features are only available to the University at Albany community through the use of their university email,” states the university website. It is essentially a database of information about apartments and room rentals in Albany, as well as a roommate registry. Although it is open to non-university community members to post rental information, it requires them to follow the university guidelines. At Southern New Hampshire University, students seeking off-campus housing in Manchester or the Hooksett area are advised to search in the local newspapers. According to the university’s website, “There are many ways for students to find housing off campus. One of the best ways to begin your search for off-campus housing is through the local newspapers. Landlords often advertise open apartments in the ‘Classified Ads’ section of the newspaper.” Some newspapers students may want to check out include Union Leader, Manchester City Guide, Nashua Telegraph and Concord Monitor. The website also offers off-campus housing tips to incoming students before they begin their apartment hunt.

International Student Services at U.S. colleges and universities are also a good resource for students looking for off-campus housing in a town or city. Although the offices might not help with apartment search, they might be able to provide temporary housing while students search for an apartment, or pair with another student willing to help with housing. International Student Services, like that of Southern New Hampshire University, also maintain a list to help students find suitable roommates. Using common knowledge in these matters is always a good idea. If incoming students know people who live in the town or city where they plan to study, then they should get in touch with them, as they might be more informed about places available to rent. Local businesses in college towns or campuses often offer flyers advertising available housing. Before starting a house hunt, it would be a good idea to consult Off-Campus Services and, if applicable, the Office of International Students. They will provide guidelines on where to look for housing, map out the surrounding neighborhoods and advise about their community and off-campus living. Natasa Milas is a freelance writer based in New York City.

To share articles go to JULY/AUGUST 2018 41

A Taste of Home


U.S. universities are striving to offer a range of authentic

global cuisines to its international students.


tudying at a U.S. college or university can be an exciting new experience for many young adults. But for some, homesickness can make this move difficult. Being away from the comfort of home and having to adjust to the differences between the new and old environments can often lead to longing for familiarity. But beyond watching films in their language or logging on to Skype, those hungry for home may simply have to wander into their campus dining hall for a taste of comfort. Universities across the United States are striving to offer cuisines that cater to international palates—a far cry from the hamburgers, macaroni and cheese, and Jell-O that used to be the only options once upon a time. The University of Houston in Texas, for instance, has opened ethnic restaurants right on campus, and its food trucks offer a range of Asian cuisines. At the University of California, Berkeley, students can find more than a dozen food options within walking distance of the campus. And, at the Florida Institute of Technology, chef de cuisine Jon Skoviera and dining services director Tom Stewart explore world cuisine in their famed International Dinner Series. The Melbourne-based institute has about 1,500 students who live on campus, roughly one-third of whom are international students from 120 countries, says Stewart. “We are very good at catering to our international students because we are, proudly, one of the nation’s most diverse universities,” he adds. Students can pick from a range of dining options on campus. “We have three major dining locations and four other, smaller units,” says Stewart.


“Those range from the ‘All-You-CareTo-Eat’ bounty of Panther Dining Hall, featuring a full-time international bar as well as a pizza buffet, pasta to order, home-style entrées with carvery and more, to our SUB Café & Deli with its salad bar and grill, to the smaller Library Coffee Shop and recreation center snack bar.” Beyond these permanent fixtures, the university is known for its endeavor to cater to the palates of international students, as well as those curious to try world cuisine. “Although we always catered to our international students with unique menu offerings in Panther Dining Hall, about four years ago, we started our groundbreaking and much-lauded International Dining Series [later rebranded as the International Dinner Series],” says Stewart. “In this series, we work with international student groups to feature the cuisine from their home countries or regions. The students help us plan the menu and research authentic recipes, and then participate in menu tastings to ensure the foods accurately represent their native dishes.” On the day of the event, “the groups provide music, dance and cultural artifacts, dress in traditional attire, greet guests at the door and generally help convert a portion of the dining hall into something akin to their homeland,” he adds. Florida Tech’s Indian student population is among the top five countries represented at the university, says Stewart. He adds that they are some of the university’s favorite groups to work with in preparing for the Indian International Dinner Series. “They always come with enthusiasm

and suggestions, dress up and participate fully in the occasion,” says Stewart. “Many of our student employees originate from India and South Asia.” The Indian dinner series in 2017 featured entertainment by Florida Tech’s Indian Student Association, and the menu included vegetarian and nonvegetarian dishes like butter chicken, rogan josh, biryanis, naan, raita and sweets. In addition to Indian food, offerings this academic year included the cuisines of the Caribbean, the Middle East, China, Africa and South America, culminating with a global Mother’s Day Brunch in May. “[It] gives them a platform to brag about their home countries and share their pride with the full campus community and beyond. In addition, we provide specialized catering for many other smaller events held by various cultural student groups through our Office of International Student and Scholar Services,” says Stewart. Special requests are always taken into consideration, and many of the popular menu items from the international events have been incorporated into the university’s regular menu cycle, says Stewart. This includes tikka masala, feijoada (Portuguese stew), Jamaican curry goat, Moroccan lamb tagine, the Chinese dish Mapo tofu, Mexican rice pudding arroz con leche and noodle bowls. “We believe food plays a major role in making our students and our international staff and faculty comfortable in their surroundings. And, we offer every opportunity for our students to give us feedback to help them adjust to life away from home,” he says.

Photographs courtesy Florida Institute of Technology

International Dinner Series

University of Houston

University of California, Berkeley

Berklee Valencia Campus/Courtesy Flickr

Top left, above center, above: Glimpses of the International Festival organized by the Florida Institute of Technology every year to celebrate cultural diversity and international community. Top center: Tikka masala, one of the dishes offered at Florida Tech’s India International Dinner Series 2018. Top right: Rogan josh on basmati rice with a side of cauliflower, the Indian entrée in the international dinner menu for the Mother’s Day Brunch, organized by Florida Tech in May 2018.

Below: A food truck by KASA Indian Eatery, a local restaurant serving Indian food in San Francisco, at San Francisco State University in California. Below left: Houston Market in the basement of Houston Hall, the college union building, at the University of Pennsylvania offers international cuisine, including Japanese and Mongolian dishes.


Candice Yacono is a magazine and newspaper writer based in southern California.

Florida Institute of Technology

Go Online

“Another of our wonderful events that is a favorite of the campus community and the broader region, and boasts of an outstanding culinary element, is our International Festival. We participate with the Office of International Student and Scholar Services to assist with this annual event, as well as the popular, albeit smaller, International Coffee Hours.” The fun doesn’t end at the campus boundary line though. “We market this series [International Dinner] to the public, where it has become extremely popular, bringing in 200 to 300 extra guests from the community. We attempt to do six to eight internationalthemed meals per academic year,” says Stewart. The community has other ways of experiencing the meals, even if they don’t attend the dinners. Chef Skoviera publishes recipes and food photos from the events in the Florida Today newspaper. So, local residents can also enjoy these global dishes offered to students of Florida Tech.

To share articles go to JULY/AUGUST 2018 43


Registered under RNI-6586/60

An Indian food stall at the Tucson Meet Yourself festival, an annual celebration of the living traditional arts of Southern Arizona’s and Northern Mexico’s diverse ethnic and folk communities. The festival, founded by University of Arizona folklorist and anthropologist James “Big Jim” Griffith, sees an active participation of the university students, who make up about 40 to 50 percent of the volunteers. The parent organization of the festival is Southwest Folklife Alliance, an affiliate nonprofit organization of the University of Arizona’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

U.S. Universities: Guiding Students to Success  
U.S. Universities: Guiding Students to Success