At St. John’s, all classes are discussion classes, and in any discussion the voices around the table are of paramount importance in shaping the conversation. Having a wide variety of perspectives in class enriches the discussion in a very meaningful way, and at St. John’s we’re lucky to have students of varying backgrounds, life experiences, and ways of thinking, including students from all over the country–and around the world.
International students add so much to our community here, both in class discussion and to campus life. In conversation, a wider variety of cultural backgrounds helps all of our students—both domestic and international—question bedrock assumptions they may not have even realized they were making. And our international students are some of our most enthusiastic participants in student life, playing vital roles in various on campus organizations and often adding new study groups and clubs to the campus ecosystem.
Of course, helping international students join the St. John’s College community is a more involved task than helping students arrive from across state lines. In order to study in the United States, an international student needs to obtain a student visa–and part of that process involves receiving a form from their intended school, attesting to their admission and ability to be a successful student. Only Designated School Officials (DSOs) can input information in the form and send it to a student. In order to be a DSO, a staff member has to complete training and be approved by the Federal government. This spring, I have had the opportunity to undergo the training (remotely!). While it’s added another task to an already crazy spring, it’s been more than worth it to know I’ll be even better able to serve our fantastic international students!