Inclusiveness Initiatives Grant

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IIF Grant Awarded to International Student Orientation Committee (ISOC)

Inclusiveness Initiatives Fund Grant: Understanding Labels. Experiecing diversity.

Introduction

In December 2007, the International Student Orientation Committee (ISOC) was awarded an Inclusiveness Initiatives Fund Grant to undertake a special project in three stages.  The primary focus group was new international students (so-called "spring admits") who entered Mount Holyoke in January 2008.  In the second and third stages of the project, ALANA students and the entire student body were brought into the process.

Goals of the Project

The majority of international students who enroll at Mount Holyoke come from homogeneous societies in which opportunities to acknowledge their identities and the diversity that exists outside of their societies are limited. This grant enabled ISOC to plan and carry out workshops whose aim it was to better integrate international students into the Mount Holyoke community and, more generally, into American society. An additional goal was to facilitate dialogue between various groups within the Mount Holyoke community.

Stage1

Informational Workshop

Informational workshop focusing on the political, social and cultural history of the United States followed by a dinner featuring foods from a number of countries. The timing of spring orientation, in the middle of the academic year, makes it harder for international students, who start their college career in the spring, to make friends and adapt quickly to their new community. Therefore, this dinner aims to provide an opportunity for international spring entrants to connect and build friendships with the international fall entrants. At the same time, it provides an opportunity for the International Student Orientation Committee (ISOC) to reconnect with the fall entrants.

Educational Field Trip

A one-day trip to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and the Statue of Liberty. This practical component of Stage 1 provides students with a hands-on experience, which introduces them to the history of immigration to the United States and informs them of the intricacies involved in becoming a U.S. citizen.

Stage 2

Workshop featuring facilitated dialogue dealing with the complicated questions surrounding issues of identity. Participants: first-year international students and ALANA first-year students.

Stage 3

Facilitated dialogue dealing with the complicated questions surrounding issues of identity. Participants: the entire Mount Holyoke student community.

ISOC strongly believes that this project, to be repeated in future years, will provide a deeper understanding of the labels associated with different student groups on campus (international students, ALANA students, etc.), and help break down the invisible wall that separates them. The hope is that students will then be able to carry on more informed discussions on various aspects of identity.