The International Students Advisory Board

Written by Shakeel Jessa ’21

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”- Harriet Tubman. 

The International Students Advisory Board (ISAB) is made up of ten undergraduate students who were selected by the Office of International Student Affairs to support the interests of international students on campus. The ISAB will work in direct relation to administrative offices on campus acting as a conduit for the issues of international students, partnering with student groups and Wesleyan faculty to bring about positive change for international students on campus. The ISAB understands that advocacy and positive change is accomplished through methodical and constant work. Through cooperation, pluralism, and understanding, the ISAB hopes to take steps to conquer the issues that go unseen by those who do not experience Wesleyan from an international perspective.

In the first meeting, the members discussed what “good advocacy” means and all agreed that it is being able to empathize with students and their subjective experiences working toward a solution that benefits both affected individuals as well as their greater community. They also worked extensively to define the scope of the issues facing international students and how they can tackle these problems through different administrative departments for a greater benefit to students. The ISAB members are tasked with serving a complete academic year meeting consistently to have a continuous stream of projects supporting the interests of international students.

“All advocacy is, at its core, an exercise in empathy.”- Samantha Power. 

A diverse group of individuals, the ISAB strives to represent the myriad of perspectives international students have. The 10 members are as follows: Meiwen Chen ’21 from Tianjin, China, Shakeel Jessa ’21 from Vancouver, Canada, Ferdinand Quayson ’20 from Ghana, Dennis (Chenye) Sun ’22 from Harbin, China, Marcel Thompson ’22 from Paris, France, Vanshika Virmani ’21 from Indonesia and India, Robyn Wong ’23 from Singapore, Yunxuan (Wendy) Wu ’23 from Beijing, China, and Adele Zhou ’2 from Beijing, China.

“No voice is too soft when that voice speaks for others.”- Janna Cachola. 

The ISAB does not purport to have all the solutions to the problems international students at Wesleyan struggle with on a day to day basis, but they are determined to be an ear for any and all. Working alongside the Wesleyan administration, the ISAB will make changes on the executive level that will be able to maintain long after the current ISAB’s time at Wesleyan. In the coming months, there will be many different ways for the ISAB to hear what the community has to say compiling the information to foster comprehensive solutions that have wide-ranging benefits. The ISAB is ecstatic to get started and encourage any international students to reach out by emailing, or by reaching out to individual members. To close with a quote by Jacqueline Novogratz, “They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step… If I could only nudge the world a little bit, maybe that would be enough”.