International Club seeks more involvement from native, foreign students

Jay Lively

When Guatemalan native Soleil Archila came to Western five years ago, she decided the school’s international community was lacking something – unity with the campus as a whole.

She said her newfound community would benefit by getting more involved with campus life and other students.

Archila, currently a graduate student in public health, took action by reviving the International Club. She organized meetings and activities while serving as president her first two years at Western.

“We wanted to get more international awareness on campus,” Archila said. “We wanted to get both international students and American students involved. It helps students realize there’s other stuff than just academics here.”

There are now over 500 international students and scholars at Western representing 59 different countries.

International student adviser Heather Dearing wants the club to be a place where students, faculty and the Bowling Green community can share and experience each other’s culture.

“This is a club where no matter what country you’re from, you have a place to belong,” Dearing said. “We want to create a place where (international students) feel comfortable and can have fun.”

For many students the club serves as an introduction to college life and campus activities.

Last year’s president, Evelina Petkova, a sophomore from Bulgaria, wants to see international students integrate more with the rest of campus.

“I would like for us to be seen not just as foreigners but as part of the community,” Petkova said. “We’re learning about traditions here in America, like homecoming and sports.

“Last year on international night we had a whole section of students at the (homecoming) basketball game. We made signs that said ‘Go Hilltoppers’ in all different languages. It was nice to get everybody out to the game.”

Despite a shortage of funds, the club tries to get out and do things as often as possible.

“Since many of the students don’t have cars we try to go to places off campus,” said Dearing, who also serves as the club’s faculty adviser.

“Sometimes we’ll have meetings at different restaurants or go shopping in Nashville.”

Members of the club have been impressed with the attention and

assistance the club has garnered in the past from President Gary Ransdell, Bowling Green Mayor Sandy Jones and former mayor Eldon Renaud.

“All the the new students that arrived this year were invited to the President’s house,” Dearing said.

Archila hopes that in the future more international and American students will become involved with the club.

“Every time new students come we try to be mentors to them, and help get them involved,” Archila said. “It’s real exciting when you first get here.”

The International Club’s first meeting of the year will be next Friday.

Reach Jay Lively at [email protected]