The Coalition of International Students helps international students' voices be heard

International students join CIS to feel welcomed on ASU campus

The Coalition of International Students, an organization that unites students of different cultural backgrounds from across the University, promotes the understanding of various nationalities in the ASU community. 

Nasraa Al Busaidi, a sophomore studying interior design and a member of CIS, is from Oman and has been in the U.S. for three years.

Busaidi said it is important to have people around for support and have respect for you and what you believe in. 

She also said that as a Muslim woman, she was scared that ASU students would bully her or judge her simply because of her head scarf.

But CIS helps her and other international students feel more at home on campus, Busaidi said. 

“I think it’s very important for me to be in this group because I learned how to interact with people from different cultures and from different backgrounds,” she said.

Xiaoli Hu, a senior studying supply chain management and a member of CIS, said it was hard for her to interact with certain circles of friends before she joined the group.

"You need a place that everybody has the same feeling," Hu said. "You share the same experience, that you can help each other and really make each other feel like you are not alone. You will never walk alone."

Hu is from China and came to the U.S. when she was 15 years old. When she arrived in high school, she felt lonely.

"When I attended ASU, I felt like this place is more welcoming and more warm,” Hu said. 

Hu said the sense of community is especially important because she was having problems getting a work visa. 

“Some company replied me with a response that they can’t provide me the working visa for any longer stay than three months,” Hu said. “We need a place that makes us feel like we are welcome and we’re not strangers.”

Hu said she believes that it has been hard for her to get her visa because of the current presidency, and that she feels that foreigners are not being treated fairly. 

Jose Rodriguez Pizarro, a graduate student studying higher education and a member of CIS, is from Ecuador.

“Diversity is important because we learn from different aspects,” Pizarro said, “We have to keep it. We have to maintain it. What happened now, because of globalization, everybody is trying to destroy, in my case, my culture, my traditions.”

Pizarro said he believes that it is difficult for him to succeed in his field because Latinos make up a small minority in higher education. But, he said that by joining CIS he has a platform where he can have his voice heard.

“We are here," Pizarro said. "We are present."

CIS focuses on building bridges in order to connect with other people and provide them with resources such as access to internships and advising. 

CIS Vice President Meitong Chen, a senior studying finance, said CIS is determined to help international students in any way, including providing support to DACA students. 

“For me, it’s not only a student organization," she said. "I feel belonging. I feel home when I joined CIS."

CIS is also a place where international students can participate in cultural activities and make connections, said Associate Vice President Zhen Wang, a junior studying supply chain management and business data analytics.

“This is not just an organization," Wang, who coordinates CIS events, said. "For me, it’s kind of like a family. It’s a place you work from your heart. It’s obvious to tell that everyone here works from their heart. They really want to devote themselves to this organization to make it a better place, a family.”

Wang said it has also been difficult for him to find an internship, and as the political climate becomes more worrisome for minorities, he also feels pressure when trying to look for a job. 

“When I’m trying to apply for my internship during the summer I got lots of barriers, like they don’t provide visa," Wang said. "They don’t provide sponsorship."


Reach the reporter at  m.gmtz15@gmail.com or follow @gmtz90 on Twitter.

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