Each semester, students from around the world come and go, slipping quietly through the halls and courtyard by day or venturing out to Caf‚ Suzie’s by night. Mills offers these men and women a place to learn English and experience American culture, and yet there is no supported interaction between Mills students and the foreign exchange students.
The foreign exchange students, who are part of a program called EF International Language School, have little interaction with Mills students. Because EF’s facilities are located in a single small area of campus, and EF students don’t attend Mills classes, EF is largely unknown to Mills students.
Diversity is a core Mills value; EF’s mission includes cultural exchange. Despite the obvious match of our two organizations, there is precious little contact between our students. An opportunity is wasted for all if we remain strangers.
Mills and its students should do more to raise visibility of this interesting group. The teas and socials catered to incoming students and various majors must equally be extended to honor and introduce some of our out-of-town friends.
Language students at Mills should reach out to EF students as conversation partners; both groups would benefit. ASMC ought also to specifically include foreign students in its dances and events. Beyond all this, we owe it to ourselves as individuals to go out of our way to make these guests on our campus feel welcome, to learn a bit and maybe teach something, too. These men and women could learn English anywhere in the world, but they come here to get a taste of our culture.
Imagine how you might feel, alone in an unfamiliar place where you don’t speak the language very well. If nothing else, you might make a friend and have a place to crash the next time you’re somewhere like Hong Kong.