Happy International Students’ Day!
One year ago, I wrote and sponsored a Student Government Association resolution for Middle Tennessee State University to officially recognize Nov. 17 as International Students’ Day. A day dedicated to celebrating, raising awareness, and promoting intercultural exchange between Americans and our international community.
The impetus for me lay in my many experiences meeting people across the country. I recognized that other students needed to be exposed to the myriad of opportunities MTSU has to offer.
There are hundreds of student organizations that cover a diverse range of interests to help you express yourself, get involved, and make a positive impact. I have traveled interstate with the MTSU Speech and Debate Team and seen places I would never have seen on my own. I also represented MTSU at the University of Chicago’s CHoMUN XXII with the Society for International Affairs in 2019. I vividly remember walking around downtown Chicago thinking of the stark contrast between the quaint colonial buildings in the Bahamas to the concrete maze of a major American city. Running around the city counting blocks to find a late-night deep-dish pizza restaurant was one of the many highlights during my time at MTSU.
From volunteering to giving storm ravaged property owners tree saplings to protect their land, to hiking through state parks, and helping fundraise for UNICEF, I have had an incredible experience during my time here.
A large part of the International experience is about immersing yourself in another’s culture, seeking opportunities, and making an impact for yourself and your home country. I admit it may initially be daunting to start connecting and networking with others because foreign students often must spend some time grasping American culture and institutions. I am writing to encourage you because your personal and professional development will thank you for it.
As Executive Vice President of the Student Government, I am a representative of all our communities on campus. I hope I have encouraged you to take advantage of the infinite avenues to make a difference at whatever level you see fit. I would have never served on university committees, or written legislation, or run for elected office if I did not believe in the value MTSU provides for its students.
I challenge you to go and actively see out new people, places, and experiences because great things never came from comfort zones. See you at the 2021 International Students’ Day celebrations!
Contributing writer Winton Cooper is an International Student Ambassador and SGA Executive Vice-President. The International Student Ambassador program that was launched in the Fall of 2020 by the Office of International Affairs. Ambassadors mentor incoming international students to help them adjust to the United States and give advice about getting involved on campus and how to be successful at MTSU.