A national census of international students at American colleges and universities confirms what is clear to anyone who has ever set foot on MHC’s campus—international students are a key part of the community.
The annual Open Doors report ranked MHC second among U.S. baccalaureate institutions in the number of international students, with 664 in the 2012–2013 academic year. Only Brigham Young University’s Hawaii campus topped MHC’s total, at 1,046. For comparison, MHC has nearly twice as many international students as seventh-ranked Smith College, which had 334. Currently, international students make up just over 25 percent of the MHC student body.
Open Doors found that the number of international students—more than 819,000 in the most recent survey—is growing throughout the United States. Nationally, nearly half of international students come from only three countries—China, India, and South Korea. Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Indiana are the top three states hosting the most international students.
Mount Holyoke has long been known for its diverse student body, and women from more than 80 countries are an important part of its truly multicultural community. Mount Holyoke’s faculty and staff speak more than 50 languages, and international perspectives are part of virtually every classroom experience.
“Global competency is critical for successful citizenship and careers in today’s world,” says Eva Paus, professor of economics and the Carol Hoffmann Collins Director of the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives.
The center provides leadership and coordination for comprehensive global education at Mount Holyoke. Among its many activities, the center provides support for international students. That includes everything from new-student orientation and academic advising to information about immigration regulations. Dean of International Students Donna Van Handle also advises the International Student Organizing Committee, a student-led group that plans events, including welcoming new international students, networking with alumnae, and negotiating the U.S. tax code.
“It is truly a joy to work with our international students from 83 different countries,” says Van Handle. “The privilege of interacting with students from so many different cultures is empowering and makes me appreciate Mount Holyoke's diverse community more every day.”
“Mount Holyoke’s international diversity provides a uniquely powerful context for global learning on campus, for domestic and international students alike,” says Paus. “In many classes, the diversity of national backgrounds leads to discussions that enhance all students’ understanding that concepts may have different meanings in different countries and that common aims and goals are realized differently in different societies.
“Whether in classes, on sports teams, or in the dorms, students at Mount Holyoke have to wrestle with communicating and connecting across national and cultural differences. Once you get to know somebody from a different culture or country, you can’t stereotype any more. That is a critical building block for advancing peace in the world.”
—By Emily Harrison Weir