Welcome international students

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Recruiting students from around the world is vital to Queen’s progress — but we aren’t prepared.

When I travelled home to India this summer, I was asked a ton of questions about my studies. But, the question that stood out the most was one posed by my relatives: Is Queen’s a good school?

It goes without saying, but no one knows that because Queen’s doesn’t have an international presence.

Although well-reputed in Canada, in the rest of the world, Queen’s is often confused with universities in the UK — Queen Mary and Queen’s Belfast.

One can take a stroll up University Ave., and it’s not hard to discern that we’ve got a glaringly obvious diversity problem.

What we’re severely lacking on campus is thoughtful discussion, different opinions, as well as experience, something that a wider range of students can change.

The Queen’s University Comprehensive International Plan (QUCIP) proposes a 10 per cent increase in international enrolment from the current 8.3 per cent — a small number, but significant nonetheless.

The issue with this plan is simple: Queen’s needs international students — but it doesn’t know how to properly take care of them.

Although resources like the Queen’s International Centre exist, they’re not effective in addressing students’ needs.

I grew up in Dubai, an international and ever-changing city, where on your average night out you’re likely to come across individuals with Peruvian or Turkish heritage.

You can imagine what an adjustment coming to Kingston was.

International students face a host of challenges — including culture shock, alienation, and the glorious weather — that they’re not prepared for, and this impacts their education and well-being.

While the QUCIP looks great on paper, it isn’t worth spending university resources just so we can look great on paper. Students’ real experiences should matter most.

The QUCIP outlines the Queen’s Quality Assurance Process, which seeks to create a higher quality experience for international students by tracking their progress over a three-year period.

While this is important and necessary for those students, what improvements are being added for the already-existing students?

Perhaps the administration can look at setting up incoming students with a ‘buddy’ — an upper year who can contact an incoming international student over the summer and guide them through the ins and outs of life at Queen’s.

While campus resources should assist in academics, making an international student feel truly welcome can be as simple as knowing where to buy that first pair of lululemons, or splitting a pitcher of sangria at QP.

Sometimes it’s better speaking to another student, an equal, rather than someone in the administration.

Tarini is one of The Journal’s Assistant News Editors. She’s a fourth-year English major.

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