Serving International Students
This past Thursday at the Texas Wesleyan University campus, faculty and staff were delighted to receive Dr. Monochehr Dorraj as a speaker discussing how to serve international students. Some of the main topics discussed included pedagogical challenges in working with international students, how to best communicate policies on attendance and academic dishonesty, cultural differences and their impact in an instructor’s teaching, and communicating advanced vocabulary and concepts.
Born in Iran and being a former international student himself, Dr. Dorraj brought an unique perspective to faculty in our campus where a great number of middle eastern and other international students call home. This opportunity to immerse yourself in a completely different culture, according to Dr. Dorraj, can bring many conflicting feelings. The possibility of a rebirth and a fresh start of a person’s definition of self can be a great motivator when moving to a new country. However, this curiosity of discovering can bring anxiety to how other people will receive someone from a different background.
There are several challenges that can arise from this transition from home values to a novel culture and a new self. Some of these challenges can impact a student’s mental health, and in those cases instructors should direct students to the counseling center. In other cases, where the issue is more cultural than personal, instructors should allow the students to cross the bridges between old ways and new ways at their own pace, while making sure that the rules in the classroom are explained clearly, support or tutoring is offered, and respect should be given both ways.