International students make a home at Trevecca

Autumn Woodard and Stephen Rudge

Marta Chesnova had a desire to break out inthe music industry. After remembering a previous trip to Nashville, the Russian native began her search for a university where she could continue her education.

ISAT members at ‘Taste the Nations’

The move to America wasn’t going to be cheap, especially with the added costs of attending college. Chesnova’s hope began to diminish, so she turned to prayer.

She asked God to show her the way if it was His will for her to be in America.

Today, Chesnova is a senior at Trevecca. She will graduate in May as one of Trevecca’s seven undergraduate international students. Combined, there are 19 undergraduate and graduate students considered international at Trevecca.

The university defines international students as those who come specifically to seek an education. They have permission from the U.S. Government to be in the country for the duration of their education program. When they graduate they will return to their home country.

While 19 students are officially considered international students, Trevecca is home to 20 undergraduate students who participate in a club for international students because of their family backgrounds.

Roy Philip, associate professor of business and faculty adviser of the International Students Association, said today, international has taken on a whole new meaning.

“They’re international in the sense that they were born here or came here very young,” he said. “But they’re not international in the sense that they live here. That’s the big difference.”

Some of them came to America as immigrants, some as war refugees and some are undocumented.

“Many of these [students] are US citizens,” said Rebecca Merrick.“They may have been born in another country but have been in the US long enough to move from a refugee immigration status to citizenship.”

Merrick serves as adviser to Trevecca’s international students as well as coordinator of multicultural recruiting. Currently, Trevecca doesn’t spend money on marketing overseas. Merrick said most of the international students come here for specific reasons. Some students come for athletics. Some students with an interest in music, like Chesnova, come because of the Trevecca’s location in Nashville while others come for specific graduate programs.

International students sometimes have difficulty making connections at Trevecca, because they look and sounds different than their peers, Merrick said. To help remedy this, Trevecca offers a variety or programs to help them settle in. International students are offered peer mentors and orientation at the beginning of the semester to help them understand student life.

While there aren’t specific services available to diverse students who aren’t classified as international, ISAT is working to help these students find connections on campus. The annual Taste the Nations is one way ISAT shows support of the different cultures represented as well as bringing awareness to Trevecca students.

Philip said he welcomes any student, international or diverse, into the club.

“We help students get used to the American culture,” he said, “The second objective is to educate Trevecca students on international culture.”

Along with the programs offered to help international students feel connected, Merrick said there are ways Trevecca students can help them feel at home on campus.

“I want there to be clear messages about International Students and Diverse students because we want this to be a place where they are safe and welcome. They make lifelong friends when they come here,” she said. “If you see an international student, introduce yourself. That to me is the most important thing. They’ve helped other students think globally.”

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