New HSE Student Council Representatives Aim to Bridge Communication Gap for International Students
In May 2017, representatives of the International Students’ Association Council were elected to the HSE Student Council for the first time. They will serve until February 2018 when a new election will take place. The International Student Association Council (or International Student Council for short) currently consists of five students from CIS and Baltic countries, and three students from other countries. Today, these students are from the Netherlands, India, and Turkey.
The Council’s mission is to involve the international students in the university’s extracurricular life, to help them adjust to life in Russia and solve problems caused by their international student status. These might be cultural, language, or administrative barriers. For example, if a student experiences problems in communicating with a teacher, or has questions on studies, dormitories, or living in Moscow, they can contact the Council for help.
The representatives of the International Student Council will take part in the work of the main HSE Student Council where they will present consolidated and motivated opinions on issues affecting international students.
While HSE strives to create a wealth of opportunities for all students, for Amand van Rossum, Deputy Chairperson of the HSE International Students’ Association Council, a particular challenge has been to find a way to make the voices of international students heard within the university. After speaking to a number of Russian and international students, he decided to develop an action plan and seek election to the HSE Student Council as a way to represent the International Students’ Association.
‘The distance between students and the university can be problematic’, says van Rossum, ‘which is why the International Students’ Association would be the perfect student body to bridge the gap. The most urgent activity I am planning to undertake is to make the Association as visible as possible to international students. I want to make sure that every student knows about us, what we can do and that we are only a click of a button away’.
Van Rossum, a native of Witmarsum (Friesland, Netherlands), is currently studying Russian language in the Preparatory Year Programme. He first came to HSE in 2015 to take part in Summer University. Next year Amand will be studying in HSE’s Master’s programme in International Relations: European and Asian Studies. A practitioner of Aikido who enjoys spending time with friends, he gained significant experience in student government while studying Political Science at University College Roosevelt in the Netherlands. He hopes that this experience will serve him well in his new role.
‘My most relevant experience was as Chair of the Academic Student Council at my previous university’, he says. ‘During that year, I learned how to function within a student body, how to work with students and with university staff and I learned how to communicate effectively… In addition, I was also part of an inter-university network which allowed me some insight into how those universities functioned. However, studying never ends, so I will definitely keep on gaining new insights into how other universities organize their councils!’
Apart from improving issues regarding communication, van Rossum is also looking to promote activities that help bring Russian and international students even closer together.
‘I am an active, involved and committed student with a lot of energy to help my fellow-students!’ he says enthusiastically. ‘I am very excited to start working at the Association, and I am looking forward to playing a larger role in the HSE community!’
Another member of the Council is Harshad Pujari from Pune, India. He is the Secretary of the newly formed International Student Association (ISA). Previously he completed a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, a Bachelor’s degree in Law, and a Master’s degree in International and Comparative Law. He is also currently enrolled in the Preparatory Year, and he will start the Masters programme in 'Politics, Economics, Philosophy' this September.
‘I decided to participate in the student council to help my fellow international students’, he says. ‘I live in the dormitory and know many international students. Every student has some problems. Also in my opinion, the problems of preparatory students often go unnoticed. My vision is to make the international students feel much more comfortable and at home at HSE and try to make them feel included. When international students come to Moscow they face a language barrier. I want to try to make things easier for them. We plan to arrange an orientation session for new international students at HSE and organize certain events for them throughout the year.’
In December 2015, HSE elected its first Student Ombudsman — master’s student Ivan Chernyavsky. In an interview with HSE, Ivan talks about his upcoming plans, as well as the problems that he already faces in his new role as Ombudsman.