I-Place Launches International Education Awareness Initiative

On Monday, Nov. 14, International Place of The Claremont Colleges (I-Place) held its first event for International Education Week (IEW). Chrystal Orozco, assistant director for I-Place and International Student Advisor (DSO) at Claremont McKenna College, explained, “IEW is an initiative set forth by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education to promote programs that prepare American for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experience.”

Orozco highlighted how I-Place views this as a tool to further engage the large international population at the 7Cs, that they hope "by bringing in the domestic community to this week’s events, we will raise International Place’s visibility on campus as a resource for all students, faculty, and staff."

Walking into the International Place Courtyard, bright but subtle fairy lights draped the tree rooting the courtyard, as people gathered nearby interacting with each other, indulging in the deeply missed international food or getting their picture taken to pin on I-Place’s world map of International students.

Multiple stalls were set up, encouraging people to embrace their diversity and internationalism by writing down something that empowered them recently and hanging it on the central tree, displaying it for others to be inspired as well given this year’s IEW theme “Youth Empowerment through International Education.” One stall offered individuals the chance to write down a struggle they have or associate with identifying as an “international student”.

Though there are events spread across the week, there wasn’t a big turnout.

“I-Place does give us a lot of support in making connections but at the same time, there is an abundance of opportunities to be a part of many different communities, which sometimes makes it kind of hard to choose," Akari Ishida PO ’20 suggested.

Ishida acknowledged the paradox in the international community; whilst it is slightly sad that not as many students turned up to this event, it does demonstrate how well I-Place has helped international students adjust and find their own groups outside of the international community.

“But at the same time, international groups on campuses such as Pomona’s International Student Mentor Program (ISMP) still need people to be engaged to help maintain its pace," she said.

Orozco hopes that with IEW, “international students will feel like an important part of the entire Claremont Colleges community, and be recognized for the unique values they contribute to Claremont.” She emphasized how the presence of individuals from all part of the world globalizes each campus and increases opportunity to meet a wide array of people with different, unique cultural backgrounds and values.

Orozco also addressed the importance of having a larger community to be able to share one’s experiences with. 

“Most international students and scholars don’t have any family in the local vicinity, let alone in the same time zone. We are here to be ‘crossroads’ for connecting people from around the world and be that ‘home away from home’ from the day they arrive in Claremont to the day that they graduate or finish their program in Claremont," she said.