By Ada Fung
International student organizations, such as PANGEA, at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, are student-run, campus-wide groups that aim to help foreign nationals on-campus. PANGEA co-chair Ada Fung describes what international student organizations are and what they can do:
Visas and immigration forms are all common worries in the minds of international students, soon-to-be freshmen at college or university. Even after you do acquire a visa and are seated on an airplane, destination: United States of America, you may still have many questions as to what life might be like for the next several years in a foreign country.
As a community-based organization founded and run by international students, PANGEA, at Wesleyan University, provides a support network to help new international freshmen at Wesleyan acclimate to life in the United States. Visas and the complications of immigration are a little beyond us, so we try to help with the simple matters, like acquiring food during the school holidays when everything on campus is closed, or introducing freshmen to the miracles of self-checkout at the local supermarket.
The true value and wealth of information and experience that incoming freshmen draw upon comes from every single international student on the Wesleyan campus, all of whom are PANGEA members.
Our “Wes Sibs” mentoring program enables freshmen to have a one-to-one relationship with an upperclassman whom they know they can always turn to for help and for answers to questions, or even just someone with whom to grab coffee after a long night of studying. When it comes to helping out the incoming freshmen, there’s no rulebook we follow. Our guidance only comes in the form of anecdotes based on our own experience that can help international freshmen shape their years in the United States into a memorable and winning experience.
Although helping incoming freshmen is our main mission, we strive to forge a support system amongst all of Wesleyan’s international students.
We host several annual events throughout the year, such as the International Food Fair, that not only promote campus-wide international culture and identity awareness, but also create chances within the busy school year to gather together and have fun. Holidays and long weekends are sore moments within the international community, as many of us do not get to go home. Thus, informal gatherings and “Wes Sib” oriented events are a way for us to stay in contact and remain a supportive, cohesive community on campus.
PANGEA never expects to provide all the ‘right’ answers to life as an international student in the United States: we are not an information service. What we are is a community-based organization dedicated to helping international students find comfort and familiarity at Wesleyan University, along with promoting general awareness of our many cultures and identities.
Born in New York in 1984, PANGEA co-chair Ada Fung, class of 2006, grew up in Hong Kong. She returned to the United States to study at Wesleyan University.