The International Students Association hosted its annual International Students Activity Coastal Tour from Nov. 20 to 22. This year approximately 40 students took part in the trip to Monterey and Solvang.
In Monterey, the students visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium and lighthouse and Hearst Castle where they learned about the history.
The International Student Office has been hosting this event for more than 20 years. The trips are usually voted on at the annual “Leadership Academy,” which was hosted by the executive cabinet in May.
“We also ask students in our general meetings where all F-1 Visa International Students are invited to suggest trips and events,” said Murray Stach, academic counselor and student development professor.
The date was decided by the International Student Association’s advisors (ISA) including Murray Stach, Mariah Ribeiro and Nairy Bouyadjian based on the academic calendar and the availability of counselors. On the other hand, the destination this year, Monterey, was decided by staff and students who voted and decided the details together. Monterey Bay Aquarium, Hearst Castle and Solvang were also suggested by students.
In addition, to participate, students are asked to contribute a fee of around 100 dollars every year. They use the international student budget and try to find reasonable prices for groups to keep the cost as low as they can for students.
“Planning takes about a semester or less than a semester, and we plan by first bringing up different trip options in cabinet and general ISA meetings, and then voting on them to select the activities each semester,” said Bouyadjian.
The problem is the number of students who know about the annual trip and are interest in it is still low. If they don’t have enough participants by the given deadline, they cancel the activity or take a financial loss.
“The problem is that although the students pay a fraction of the price, the number of interested students is very low. It would be wonderful to make it known that these programs are organized for them to take advantage of their time in the U.S., and the opportunities presented, to explore their surroundings, to get to know their fellow students from other countries, and to learn about U.S., and other cultures,” said Armenuhi Andzhu who is student services assistant.
“What I like to see with the trips is that students get to know other international students. Some students come to the United States and have family or friends here and are well connected to others and U.S. culture,” said Stach. “Other students come here alone and don’t know people and have no family or friends and no close connections and are sometimes lonesome, so it gives them an opportunity to meet other students.”