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News for IWU’s Campus

International Students Desire Cross-Cultural Engagement

International students at Indiana Wesleyan University said they would love to see other students engage with their stories and cultures.

Elise Hegdahl, a junior studio arts major, spent 10 years as a missionary kid in India. She said she values her international experiences, but sometimes her background separates her from people who can’t relate.

“I would rather connect with people,” Hegdahl said. “I would rather have that be a connection point than a division point.”

Other members of the International Student Association share Hegdahl’s wish to connect over people’s unique stories.

ISA president Abu Tapper, a junior studying political science and history, said he wishes more people knew that the ISA is a caring, welcoming club.

Tapper moved from Ethiopia to Canada after his adoption as a young child and spent high school in the U.S. He said he has made great friends in the ISA and wants others to experience the same joys.

“One thing that I’ve learned is that there’s great people everywhere you go,” Tapper said.

As ISA president, he said he loves to hear how people from so many different places and backgrounds ended up at IWU.

Another ISA member, Derick Flores, said he moved from Honduras to the U.S. for college. Flores is a senior physics major with a computer science minor.

He said he left Honduras at 17 and started college at Asbury University. Asbury didn’t have a physics program, so Flores transferred to IWU in 2020.

“Because America has a combination of cultures, I think that that is the true international experience. You know, if I am a student who is like, you know, foreign exchange or whatever you want to call it, I’m an international student. I didn’t come here to experience my same culture,” Flores said.

At the same time, he said he wishes other students would engage more with international students. For those who worry about how to start those conversations or not be offensive, Flores said the answer may be just listening and paying attention.

“What I wish people knew about international students,” Flores said, “it’s like, we’re here to experience your culture, but we also want to share part of us with you.”

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