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Regular version of the site

‘Our Objective Is to Be There for the International Students’

Newly elected members of the Council of International Student Association talk about their plans

© Daniil Prokofyev/ HSE University

Elections to the Council of the International Student Association (CISA) were held at the end of December. The newly elected Council unites students from different countries under the common goal of ensuring a full and comfortable life for HSE University’s international students.

The Council’s immediate agenda includes helping newcomers get to know Moscow and adapt to life in the dorms. There are also plans to arrange additional free Russian language lessons for those interested. The Council is going to work closely with HSE student organisations and teachers to make the university more appealing to international applicants.

If you have any questions or suggestions for the Council of the International Student Association, send an email to isa@hse.ru

Emilio Villaseñor (Mexico)
Chair of CISA and Delegate to the HSE Student Council
Bachelor’s programme in International Relations

I've always wanted to be the initiator of something, and here in the council I can start new initiatives and projects! My motivation has always been to help my people, and by my people I mean everyone because we all are equal. I want everyone to have what they deserve—a good and fair university life!

First of all, we need to keep what the last year's CISA did, as we know they did a great job, and we must continue with what was not done due to the time, like employment for international students and some other projects. Besides, this year we plan to be ONE with the international community: we must be together, we need to spread the word that CISA is here to help this beautiful community.

I would like to change the way the Russians in general see the international community. I want all students to be part of a single community

I also want to make the adaptation of my fellow foreign friends my main priority because the first weeks are crucial for the development of the international students in general.

First, it’s crucial to solve the problem of the dorms without English speaking staff. It’s also necessary to provide English materials for first-year international students at least.

We are already working on the project called "roomies". I thought of it myself after listening to many stories of international students related to the problems when arriving to the dorms. This will be an effective method to help international students get settled in the dorms and the surroundings without the need to speak Russian.

David Movsisyan (Armenia)
Vice-Chair of the Council
Bachelor’s programme in Law

As an international student myself, I strive to share my knowledge about our rights, opportunities, and community with HSE University’s international students through CISA. Adapting to a new place can be challenging, both mentally and legally, so my objective is to be there for the international students and help them with everything I can!  I’d like to establish a unique bond between our students and CISA to create a powerful international student body.

Firstly, we are going to create introductory brochures for international students so that they can get acquainted with the regulations and responsibilities of the Council.

Secondly, the fair investigation of disciplinary actions is a must, so I’d say it is an urgent matter to be taken care of. I’m going to start with exploring Student Internal Regulations to thoroughly understand the Student Council system and its place in the university.

Finally, we’d like to prove to everyone that being an international student at HSE is truly awesome and inspiring!

Elizabeth Puente Cepeda (Mexico)
Master’s programme in Political Analysis and Public Policy

I applied to the CISA because I—as international student myself—have experienced the highs and lows of arriving in a new country and feeling completely lost, much more so if you don’t speak the language.

When I arrived in Russia, I was able to navigate all the Russian bureaucracy because friends from my Master’s programme told me what to do. Some of them came with me to help me get all the required documents and take care of the visa. I was truly blessed, but not all the international students that arrive at HSE have that luck. And that’s just the arrival. It is my wish to help and provide international students with a healthy and friendly environment for them to feel welcomed by HSE.

This is something that most might forget, but the only thing that guarantees an international student’s life in Russia IS HSE. Be it an institute, figures of authority like professors and directors, or student community and friends—everything is linked to HSE. It is the safe port for international students.

My motivation is to never let international students feel the fear of uncertainty and to let them know that the international students’ community is here for them, even if they still don’t have Russian speaking friends

I am also really concerned for the international student’s health in general. International students largely depend on scholarships and the support from their families. They don’t have additional sources of income unless they get a job here—and for that they need to speak the language—so their diet it is not the most recommended for anyone. This is something I have shared with Metcha magazine too and we will touch upon this topic in the next issue. [Metcha is a new online magazine for HSE’s international students—ed.]

There is also the issue of access to healthcare because those who don’t speak Russian first need to overcome the language barrier and then the Russian bureaucracy and a series of obstacles to finally be able to see a doctor.

I am also concerned for the international student’s mental health. I have spoken with many international students and most of them are looking for psychological support in one way or another.  I am afraid the HSE mental health support system is overwhelmed with requests from HSE students in general.

I would like to find a way to provide with proper mental health support to all the international students

Another issue that needs more work is the communication between HSE authorities and international students. We will be working on all these issues to create a better life for international students at HSE University

Muhammad Didarul Islam Prince Miah (Bangladesh)
Head of Information Committee
Master’s programme in System and Software Engineering

Actually, the decision to run for Student Council blew my mind when I joined HSE University and came to know about the Council. I got elected and worked last year and will continue this year. It is an honour for me to work with my international buddies for our fellow international community.

I think it’s important to make everyone at university feel that together we are safe and we are not alone. We may not be able to change the world, but we are able to change our world and changing oneself may bring about big changes around us. Working together can help us solve existing problems.

CISA has surely changed a lot, but its main goal stays the same—to help the international student community. As for me, I want to focus on the availability of information. My main concern is that information should be brought to everyone as soon as it appears.

With my best efforts and along with our other team members, we’d like to see information regarding admission and all other inquiries open to everyone around the world. All updated Information should always be available and all inquiries should be answered in real time. There should not be any communication gaps.

Sveta Gordienko Rabinovich (Spain)
Head of Social Committee
Master’s programme in Strategic Management and Consulting

The decision to run for the Council was quite spontaneous. When I saw that there was a possibility to become a member of the International Student Council, I immediately felt that I need to try to participate—to make this world a little bit better step by step.

I’d like to make this world a safe place, where students can study and have fun at the same time, in the way that the study process would become entertaining instead of boring. Overall, I plan to just do my best in every aspect where I see that my participation is welcomed and appreciated.

As the head of CISA Social Committee I’m going to inform all international students about all social programmes and projects available to them. I’d also like to try and make some administrative process more flexible.

Syeda Ulya Ehsen Kazmi (Pakistan)
Member of CISA
Master’s programme in Economics Research

I decided to join the HSE Student Council soon after I came to HSE University. During my preparatory year, I found out that there exists an international students´ association and they elect the Council every year. So, I participated in the next elections and worked as the Chair of CISA for the past whole year.

My primary motivation is to contribute to making HSE better day by day. Since CISA represents the international students, something that I always stress is inclusivity, which also means equalising opportunity.

Core issues that international students face here are lack of employment opportunities and unavailability of information in English, both of which are systemic, but we are working on them.

What I am thinking of creating is an UpWork kind of platform exclusively for international students who cannot benefit from the existing similar platforms in Russian.

We have come a long way since the beginning of last year when I was first elected to CISA. Still, we need to spread our outreach even further in order to be there for every international student

Ark Arya (India)
Member of CISA and Delegate to the HSE Student Council
HSE University and Kyung Hee University Double Degree Bachelor’s Programme in Economics and Politics in Asia

I decided to join the Student Council to get a practical understanding of the workings of student associations, which I suppose will be a valuable skill for me and might even add value to my resume. I also want to help the students who feel alienated in a new environment.

I plan to get better acquainted with the diverse issues international students face. The most pressing issues appear to be the shortage and price of accommodation, the language barrier, and  expulsions without considering the circumstances of foreign students.

I’d like to help HSE gain an international-student-friendly reputation and become popular in the international community. For that, the university will have to introduce more English language programmes and campaign to make employment for foreigners in Russia easier.

To begin with, the university can help make the study years a memorable experience for foreign students. The word of mouth will spread and attract more students from their countries, so it wouldn’t be long before HSE can stand shoulder to shoulder with popular Western institutions like LSE or NYU

The first initiative I’d like to work on is providing complementary Russian language classes to international students (even if they’re in an English language programme) because it will help them deal with various issues outside the university.

February 09, 2022