A panel addressing the issues international students faced during the COVID-19 pandemic will take place from 7 to 8 p.m. Sept. 28 on Zoom, featuring two faculty and two student speakers.
IU senior Noah Moenning organized the event through partnerships with IU Student Government, the Department of International Studies and other student organizations.
After being a teaching assistant for the past two semesters, he said he saw the need to bring awareness to issues he noticed international students facing. He said students had to take exams at 3 a.m. in their home country or were unable to return home because of travel restrictions.
Along with time zone issues and travel restrictions, international students may also face financial issues or problems securing a visa, Moenning said.
Moenning was nominated for an Emerging Leaders program through Global Ties U.S., a nonprofit organization. As a part of that program, he said he had to put on an event or activity in his community.
“Ultimately, it’s just me putting all this on,” Moenning said. “It’s individual action that’s leading to a bunch of community support.”
Moenning hopes to have a good turnout as students and faculty at IU can help to advocate for this population that is so prominent at the university, he said.
“As students, we have almost a calling to support the students around us,” Moenning said. “Seeing that this particular community of international students, they’re a huge part of IU’s campus.”
IU senior and panel speaker Iswerya Ajay completed her freshman year in Hong Kong and then transferred to IU.
She said she hopes to have an open discussion about ways students would like to be helped and ways IU can attend to these needs.
“I think the main thing is really just being informative from the side of the students,” Ajay said. “And also hearing the administrative side of things.”
Ajay said the pandemic has brought on numerous, unpredictable issues. She said all students have had trouble, but many international students have been unable to return home.
“One of the main things has really just been being able to travel back home, and the borders and everything being closed off,” Ajay said. “That’s not something we have control over or can vouch for — it’s just something that because of the pandemic we have to deal with.”
Maddie Zirkle, IU junior and IUSG director of student life, will be representing IUSG in the panel. She said she recognizes how hard the pandemic has been for everybody, especially international students, and is attending the panel to learn how she can better advocate for all students in her position.
“International students can sometimes not have the best advocates, especially because they are not as represented at IU,” Zirkle said. “After the pandemic, I knew that going home, leaving the country and coming back in, was very challenging already, just from people traveling.”