‘We Want to Make Sure that International Students Have Fulfilling Academic and Personal Lives’
The Council of the International Student Association (CISA) works to ensure that international students can live and study comfortably at HSE University and in Russia in general. At present, CISA consists of nine international students and its Chair. Its current activities include dealing with border closures, arranging vaccinations, and creating information channels for international students.
The HSE News Service talked to Ayomide Adеdini, CISA’s current Chair, and Emilio Villaseñor, who held the position last year, about how CISA helps foreign students at HSE University.
Ayomide Adеdini (Nigeria), student of the Master’s in Political Analysis and Public Policy and current CISA Chair
The Council of the International Student Association at HSE University aims to create a dynamic environment that fosters a diverse and inclusive society for all foreign students studying here. Our mission is to promote cross-cultural understanding on campus and ensure the proper welfare and academic progress of all students.
Many international students struggle to adjust to academic expectations. We aim to offer support to international students as they navigate these challenges. Every student has the expectation of succeeding in their academic sojourn in a foreign land like Russia. For many international students, however, culture shock and differences in education styles such as grading systems, course selection systems, etc can cause many students to fall short of academic expectations. The council supports the university’s efforts to ensure every international student gets oriented and settled in order to make significant academic progress before and upon their arrival in Russia.
As the voice of the international student community, a critical part of our task is to ensure the welfare of all international students
We have positioned ourselves to advocate for the needs and concerns of international students with the university administration and other relevant stakeholders. This includes advocating for more financial aid for international students, providing timely and accurate information on jobs and employment, and raising awareness about issues that affect international students.
Despite challenges such as cultural differences and meeting the needs of students from various backgrounds, the council has made significant strides in achieving some of its goals.
One success story is the timely dissemination of information to international students, which has helped them stay updated and make informed decisions. The dissemination of timely and relevant information has always been informed by the survey conducted by the council to gain insights into the needs and concerns of international students. This has also helped in setting up a mechanism that provides a safe environment for resolving the issues of international students.
The council has established a robust collaboration with other student organisations to create an extensive support network for international students, providing opportunities for cultural exchange, social connection, and personal development
The Council of the International Student Association plays a crucial role in creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for international students at HSE, ensuring that international students make significant progress in their academic and personal lives.
Emilio Villaseñor (Mexico), student of the Bachelor’s in International Relations and former CISA Chair
Within the last year the CISA team focused on helping international students to overcome the stress and hard economic situation caused by the sanctions imposed on the country. We researched different ways in which students from all over the globe were able to get money from their home countries. Additionally, we took over more individual cases regarding different international students, like personal and academic problems during their studies and so on.
We also involved ourselves with the student council in order to facilitate the life of the international students at the university, eg demanding obligatory materials in English for each subject, a more tolerant environment at the university, and so on. In addition, we updated the manuals for first-year students and the information related to the obligatory procedures that foreigners must undergo in the country. And finally, we helped with the job search for those who do not speak Russian fluently.
The hardest problems were assisting with job hunting and getting money for international students in Russia. The exterior situation made these problems almost impossible to solve, but thanks to our united and strong international community, we could overcome them
The main challenge was the global situation, since everyone needed to refocus and set aside the internal problems of international students. Our main success was keeping our community informed and under control, as misinformation caused a lot of panic. We encouraged our fellow students to stay calm and stay strong together, so they knew there were people here to help at any time.
We all learned different values working in such a diverse environment as CISA, but the main thing was that even when a challenge seems to be impossible, there is always a way to solve it.
The only thing that I would suggest to the new CISA members is to stick together—there is strength in numbers! And our small international community at the university must always stay that way.
International students at HSE University can keep up to date with the latest news, events and information by following the HSE International Students Telegram channel and the CISA VK page.
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