Hobart and William Smith Colleges hosted this year’s International Student Summit, sponsored by the New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium. The Summit brought nearly 50 international students, representing 24 countries, to campus for two days this fall.
“Our primary goal for the Summit was to let students network and ensure the most interaction across the schools,” says Director of International Student Affairs David Gage ’91, P’22. “This was our second summit, and we plan to make it an annual event.”
Established with the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium facilitates collaboration among its six member institutions: Colgate and St. Lawrence universities, and Hamilton, Skidmore, Union and Hobart and William Smith colleges. Collaborative study abroad and international student experiences are one focus of the consortium.
Hobart Dean Khuram Hussain offered the keynote address, discussing the complexities of life as an international student in America.
Panel sessions were held dealing with topics ranging from stress management to transitioning to life in a liberal arts college. Panelist Hamdan Ahmed ’20 of Rawalpindi, Pakistan, is president of the International Student Association at HWS. The computer science and mathematics double major pointed to the differences between American college life and that in other countries, where students may not have the luxury of choosing their own major or changing that major if they wish. He also noted that in many countries, the educational system is lecture-based, whereas in American colleges open discussion is favored in the classroom.
“It can be hard to speak up or participate in class discussions when, for your whole life, you have been told to not speak in class and just listen to what the professor is teaching,” Ahmed says.
Xiaojin Natty Lin ’20, an economics and psychology double major from Guangzhou, China, enjoyed meeting students from a diverse set of backgrounds.
“Meeting new people connects us with new experiences and new stories,” Lin says. “The common fact of being an international student studying abroad in the States provides us with more topics for conversation, and these are the starting points of new friendships or new experiences.”