Unifying Campus Through its Diversity


Credit: Williston Flickr

In our Williston community we see people from all over the world, but it is challenging for the international students to always assimilate into  American culture. American students can benefit from knowing what it’s like to be in the shoes of an international student. To this end, Mrs. Valine, the Director of International Student Programs, said Williston is going to take international leadership to the next level by offering various leadership roles for students to get a chance to be part of a more diverse community.

People around you, peers and classmates, from across the world can help all students experience a fusion of cultures and celebrate Williston as the global community it is.

This year, Williston has welcomed more international students than in the past, with 50 new international students; the campus now represents 30 different countries. Valine wants to help guide international students by giving them the right tools to be leaders on campus.

“I would love to work with those students to help them develop one or two events over the course of the year that will be open to our school community,” Valine said.

“I would like to help people learn about international foods or international fashion or maybe we fuse the two together in one event,” she added. “I want to empower students and help them learn what goes into putting together an event and running it, and what you do afterwards.”

Valine said international students obviously play an important part in running international-themed events, but American students are also needed to help give international students the confidence they need in planning and running events.

“I think it is always important to always be inclusive, and I think it’s always a little bit challenging to have an event that is sponsored by international students, to help highlight all the places and the cultures they come from and not have it be just them,” Valine said.

Nhi Nguyen, a senior from Hanoi, Vietnam, would be happy to run a Vietnamese-food themed event in the future to coincide with Tet, the Vietnamese new year.

“Because it is a big holiday, we eat traditional food with our family, and have two weeks of school off to have family time, therefore many Vietnamese students can get homesick during this time of the year,” Nhi said. “It’s a national wide holiday and everybody celebrates it, and my favorite part is when I get the lucky money. On that occasional day I would wear traditional clothes, and many generations of my family will come together to celebrate”

Tet is February 5, 2019.

Similar to Nhi, Jack Long, a junior from Shanghai, China, has plans to bring the Chinese New Year to the Williston campus. The Chinese New Year is celebrated around January and February based off of the lunar calendar.

“On the New Year’s Eve we all stay up watching this sort of like national broadcast for six hours of shows and all that, and that’s very symbolic because everyone watches it,” Jack said. “Then we will stay up till 12, and there will be fireworks outside precisely starting at 12, and everyone is going to celebrate the coming of the new year as a signature, as a sign for good luck.”

Jack also talked about how his family would go to bed with red pockets, or envelopes, — red symbolizes good luck in China — and place them under their pillows. During the night the parents sneakily fill the red pocket with money, a tradition that has been part of their culture for a very long time.

Jack has a great idea for how he could bring this tradition to the Williston community.

“For a tradition we could do a lottery with red pockets, but not with really money, instead with Tandem gift cards in it,” he said.

Students already have various ideas to bring their unique cultures together as one, but more than the need of international students, they need the help of American students to support them in this process. Molly Kinstle, a sophomore from Easthampton, proposed ways in which she and others can contribute to this cause.

“The obvious one, would be telling other American students about it,” she said. “A good way to get to the American students is probably through other American students, telling other people. Molly said it would be easier for the American students to participate if the international students take ownership of the event and all the responsibilities needed to pull off the event.

Molly’s intention of spreading the word and bringing people together will give international students the comfort to come forth with spreading their culture to the Williston community, she said.

“I know that diversity is something Williston strives for and works hard towards making the campus as diverse as they can,” Molly said, “so I feel like them working together and the international students directly bringing their culture to American students would be really effective, enjoyable, and really fun to do.”