One of the greatest things a college can offer besides quality education is the opportunity to join student clubs. These clubs are the foundation of friendships, provide a platform for meetings to plan activities, and ultimately create a sense of community within the school.
Glendale College has clubs for virtually every student. The International Students program isn’t any different. The International Student Association (ISA) happens to be the biggest club at GCC, considering that from the moment of enrollment, every international student automatically becomes a member of the ISA.
Currently, there are around 425 international students attending GCC. For years, the ISA has welcomed new members, offering fun activities such as hiking, bowling, or enjoying a day at Universal Studios. There are field trips on the calendar as well, where students take a weekend to explore different places like the Grand Canyon, Big Bear, or even San Francisco.
There are many responsibilities to follow when carrying an F1-Student visa in the U.S. Some limitations and obligations apply to international students that if not followed, could potentially affect their status in the country. Besides having to worry about the immigration laws, being far from home means many students will eventually face cultural shock and language barrier issues. For many, this can be extremely hard to deal with.
With that in mind, the ISA, along with the International Student Office (ISO), host on-campus activities as well, like serving free lunches in the beginning and end of the year, so that students are able to enjoy a small break for their hard work at school. The ISA also holds general meetings to keep students updated, and receive suggestions and feedback from all club members.
There is also the annual celebration of the International Education Week by the U.S. Department of State – this year on the week of Nov. 18 – where all students on campus are more than welcome to participate and experience different cultures. It’s a major opportunity for international students to speak up, and “to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences,” according to the Department of State’s official website.
During last year’s International Education Week, with the help of ASGCC, the ISA also counted on students volunteering to help with a food fair that took place at Plaza Vaquero. During the same week, several panelists shared the benefits of international education, aiming to grow students’ knowledge when it comes to adjusting to life abroad.
Being part of a big club often comes with sharing big responsibilities, and the cabinet members of the ISA work hard to make the best out of every semester. Cabinet members are international students, who also go through the process of adapting to the American norms while helping other international students along the way.
“As an international student from Pakistan, raised in Saudi Arabia, I strongly believe in family type relationships,” said Syed Bukhari, the president of the club. He cited “respect” and “responsibility” as important attributes. “I want to see the ISA as a family working together to bring out the best to the international student body,” Bukhari explained.
At times, it can be difficult to put aside all cultural differences, and to be able to create ideas that will benefit hundreds of students at once, but with communication and a positive attitude, members have been progressing with the club through meetings and social media. In the concept of unity, current and new international students will keep on bringing higher hopes to the program, as Bukhari made sure to highlight that by “working alongside, we do better.”
Tatiana Pak can be reached at [email protected]