Written by Tsemaye Agboghoroma
The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the views of St Nic’s.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)
University was my first major shot at independence. Moving 6,000 miles away from home (insert tears), I had a rush of excitement, fear and joy. But as the weeks went by, I realised that it was more like a jigsaw puzzle. Day by day I had to fit in the pieces of my life, learning about my faith, community and prayer (still learning). However, this post is not about me.
With the level of diversity amongst students in Nottingham it is important to welcome international students and help them acclimatize to student life in the UK. Here are my top tips on how to welcome international students.
1 // Do not generalise or assume
In today’s world, the media has portrayed a single story about many countries like mass poverty and illiteracy. But this is not the case. We must seek to find and understand multiple angles to these stories. We can do this by asking questions, reading and researching. However, we must ask questions in a friendly and non-judgemental way. This helps to make international students feel at ease and not leave them feeling judged or unwelcomed.
2 // Familiarise yourself with other cultures
International students have diverse cultures and ways of life. Coming to a new country for the first time might leave them very homesick. It is important to try to make them feel at home. You can try their food, watch their movies, or attend events run by international students to assure them of your support during their stay in the country.
3 // Be sensitive
Being in a multicultural city, we must try to be sensitive to the comments and assumptions we make. We must have empathy and consider that others might be offended by our comments and actions. For example, we must avoid jokes and critical comments, that might directly or indirectly make fun of other countries or people. However, as Christians we must not be involved in such because it does not glorify God.
4 // Be Inclusive
It is important to treat international students like everyone else yet also recognise the differences they have. Do invite them to events – don’t assume they might decline. (they might just be shy).
5 // Be an Ambassador of the Kingdom
A fantastic way to help international students feel welcome at church and on campus is simply to be a good representative of Jesus Christ. Be nice, helpful, respectful, non-judgemental and most of all do everything with love.
6 // Pray for them
The struggle of staying so far away from their family and friends is overwhelming. We must pray for the overall wellbeing of the international students in our city.
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2)
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Have a blessed week ahead and spread some kindness.