Emerson has formed its first International Graduate Student Organization amid a steady increase in the number of global students trying to form friendships and networks with each other and their American peers.
“We’re trying to give them a chance to meet other international students and make friends, maybe have a study group and have fun together,” said Lujia “Katie” Chen, MA ’14, president of the organization, who is from China.
The IGSO plans to organize social and networking events with fellow Emerson students and international graduate student organizations at other Boston colleges.
The organization’s faculty advisor is Cathryn Cushner Edelstein, scholar-in-residence in the Communication Studies Department, who said it is easy for global students—specifically graduate students—to feel disconnected shortly after arriving on a college campus.
“A lot of grad students don’t live close to one another,” Cushner Edelstein said. “Once they leave campus, they go home. They’re basically alone. So the hope is that they will meet more students on campus whom they don’t even realize are here.”
“We want to try to get all the international graduate students together to have a big community for them—a big family for them,” Chen said.
There are 84 international graduate students at Emerson this year, which is up from 76 in 2010.
“We’re hoping to also bring in some speakers or alumni [at the events], and to copy some of what’s worked [in IGSOs] at other colleges,” said Radha Shah, MA ’14, treasurer of the IGSO, who is from India.
“If we find some sources that know [of] some companies looking for interns, we could give [people] that information,” Shah said. “On both the social and career fronts, we’re trying to make people feel at home.”
The IGSO formed this semester and all international graduate students are automatically members. Anyone who is interested in helping organize activities or has suggestions for future events can email the group at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The organization is kicking off only a few months after the launch of Emerson’s International Graduate Transition Leadership Program, better known as the “iGrad,” during which a group of current international graduate students contact incoming international graduate students to provide them with helpful information and peer-to-peer support as the new students complete their move to Emerson from overseas. Cushner Edelstein and Richard Zauft, dean of Graduate Studies, oversee that program.