The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

International Student Month: Exploring diversity and global perspectives at Vanderbilt

Themed “A Trip Around the World,” this year’s International Student Month featured speaker panels, performances, cuisine and more.
Amelia Simpson
International Student Month was celebrated with a series of events representing Vanderbilt’s cultural diversity. (Hustler Multimedia/Amelia Simpson)

This year’s International Student Month, themed “A Trip Around the World,” aimed to recognize and acknowledge the rich history, cultural diversity and significant contributions made by international students on campus. 

ISM was hosted throughout the month of March by the Student Center for Social Justice & Identity, International Students & Scholar Services, University Counseling Center; Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, the Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies, the Multicultural Leadership Council, the International Student Council, the Association of Latin American Students, the Vanderbilt Nepali Student Association, and the Vanderbilt chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. 

According to the SCSJI website, the aim of these ISM programming — including speaker panels, performances, networking, movie screening and cuisine —  build a sense of community among international students and educate non-international students about the experiences of international students. 

International student experiences

On March 8, MLC presented its annual Lanterns showcase — themed “Traversing Boundaries.” Professors, students and staff shared their struggles and journeys in education as international students. 

First-year international students Simon Gou and Jack Yan both study Western Classical Music at Blair and hail from Mianyang, Sichuan, China and Beijing, China, respectively. Gou played the piano, while Yan sang along to a traditional Chinese song at the Lanterns showcase. Following the performance, they shared slideshow pictures of their favorite Chinese cuisines from their hometowns and spoke about their experiences transitioning to college in the United States. 

“One of the foods I miss the most is the Spicy Beef Noodle soup. I come from Sichuan, which is known for their spice tolerance. Coming here, I tried to use EBI’s pho as a substitute for that, but it’s not even close,” Gou said.

Gou encouraged Vanderbilt to add more authentic Chinese cuisines as part of Campus Dining options. 

Yan said he believes that international students can help other students be more culturally aware and encouraged international students to share their heritage with the school community.

“I believe that the study of culture is through people and not textbooks. Bring a piece of yourself to campus and share it with others,” Yan said.

Senior Lecturer in the Department of Physics Brenda Fabela Enriquez described the lessons she learned from her educational experience as an international student from Zacatecas, Mexico, pursuing her PhD at Vanderbilt. Enriquez said that her lack of confidence in her English speaking held her back from making friends and taking opportunities in school, despite doing well academically. 

“I have learned to be okay with not knowing it all and practice letting go of the ideal of perfection. Most importantly, I have learned to enjoy the present moment because everything in life is impermanent,” Fabela Enriquez said.


On March 9, Vanderbilt’s NAACP chapter hosted a mid-semester de-stress event to provide marginalized students a time to decompress before midterms. NAACP provided goodie bags and mini canvases for students to express themselves artistically while relaxing to R&B music.

NAACP President Asya Miles, a senior, helped coordinate the de-stress event and called it “extremely rewarding.”

We really enjoyed being able to give back to our community and ourselves in a different way and reminding students that in order to effectively serve others, we must refill our tank and take care of ourselves, as well,” Miles said. 

International Orientational Leader Prisha Punjwani, a sophomore, said she appreciates the guidance she received in her first week at Vanderbilt through iLead, an organization composed of current international and US students who welcome all incoming undergraduate international students. She found it rewarding to help ease the transition to the United States for new international students. She believes that international students face a number of challenges when they come to campus as they not only cross physical borders, but also traverse cultural, social and emotional boundaries. 

“When it comes to the social scene, international students may have a hard time understanding local slang, pop-culture references, or getting used to the general etiquette,” Punjwani said. “Sometimes, we come across questions or judgements from domestic students as they put us into boxes depending on their stereotypes of our home countries.” 

On March 29, VNSA partnered with Moore College to celebrate Nepali culture at CosMOOREpolitan. President of Moore College Lauren Parker, a senior, helps facilitate weekly CosMOOREpolitan events, which feature cultural food and music from different countries.

CosMOOREpolitan, as photographed on March 29, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Jenny Yang)
CosMOOREpolitan, as photographed on March 29, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Jenny Yang) (Jenny Yang)

“Here at Moore, every Wednesday is international day because we are really focused on celebrating the international aspect of our community,” Parker said.

Senior international student Alex Li attended the event and said he hopes to see more voices of international students on campus. He also mentioned that he believes that the university should do more to support and engage with its international student community, such as by providing more resources and opportunities for cultural exchange and networking.

“I really respect their [Vanderbilt’s] effort, but I feel like it [celebrating international student diversity] is not really a good job because there’s not so much publicity, or at least not as much publicity as I would like to be aware of,” Li said.

Additional programming included an ISM Kickoff and Block Party where students played board games and got free food. The organization also organized an ESL support group, speaker events discussing struggles undocumented citizens face, a documentary screening of “Finding Yingying,” and a networking event for international students. 

The month’s event concluded with a networking night sponsored by the International Student Council. The event gave international undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to ask ISSS and the Career Center their career-related questions.

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About the Contributors
Sae-Eun Lee
Sae-Eun Lee, Staff Writer
Sae-Eun Lee is from Atlanta and is majoring in human and organizational development and Asian studies. When not writing for The Hustler, you can find her hanging out with friends and family, watching K-Dramas or traveling. She can be reached at [email protected].
Jenny Yang
Jenny Yang, Staff Writer and Photographer
Jenny Yang (‘26) is from Colonial Heights, Va. She is majoring in economics and political science with a minor in business. In her free time, Jenny enjoys trying new food, learning about different cultures and spending quality time with loved ones. She can be reached at [email protected].
Amelia Simpson
Amelia Simpson, Staff Photographer and Graphics Staffer
Amelia Simpson ('25) hails from Brisbane, Australia and is a student in the College of Arts and Sciences majoring in public policy. Outside of her work in the Hustler’s multimedia sections, Amelia is a member of the club rowing and equestrian teams. You can reach her at [email protected]
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