By Nami Nagaoka
The Youngstown State University International Student Organization held its election for officers with the assistance of the international programs office at YSU President Jim Tressel’s house on Friday.
Ashwin Mishra, a sophomore majoring in computer science from Nepal, was announced as the new president of ISO. The election was held during the semester’s first international coffee hour.
Each year, Tressel hosts the first international coffee hour of the semester at his residence. He said international coffee hour is an opportunity for students, faculty and community members to come together and engage in conversation and friendship.
“It’s so good to get a chance to let all of our international students know that they are welcome here, [and] feel that this is home for them,” Tressel said.
More than 150 people attended the coffee hour to meet fellow international students and share their culture and views over free coffee and food. Tressel said international students seem to come to campus more confident every year.
“More students feel a little bit more safety in numbers and they seem to be more confident and more excited to be a part of the YSU family,” Tressel said. “Every year, it gets a little better.”
Tressel expects the new ISO members to determine the needs of international students and represent their ideas and perspectives on campus.
“If we can continue to slowly grow the number, it’s just going to be more opportunities for students to come here and learn more about our culture. The more international students, the more our domestic students will be touched,” Tressel said.
However, Tressel worries that the quality of student programs will diminish if there is a sudden and large intake of international students, which could overwhelm the programs available.
“We’ve got to do it with the right increment,” Tressel said.
Mishra said it is very important to him as head of ISO to understand the students’ problems and speak up for them.
“We need to understand and respect everyone’s views, and we need to accommodate their diverse opinions,” Mishra said.
He recently helped new Nepali students adapt to their new environment by providing tips and advice based on his own experience living in the United States.
“We made sure that they all feel welcome to YSU so that the transition is smoother,” Mishra said.
Rachel Mientkiewicz is the chair of the iPals organization, which is a YSU student community of international and domestic students who engage in various events and volunteer opportunities together. She said being active and accessible is important in a leader of ISO.
“I really want us to work together and connect all the international student and domestic students,” Mientkiewicz said. “We’ll be more powerful.”
The iPals is planning to work with ISO for the homecoming parade, according to Mientkiewicz.
“The theme this year fits us very well. Working together will boost our creative power and boost our manpower working on the float,” she said.
Mientkiewicz said her goal this year is to expand the organization not just at YSU but throughout all of the Youngstown community.