“Being an international student at Amherst can be hard for some people,” said ISA webmaster Isuru Seneviratne ’04. “[You] have no idea about the bus system, you don’t know what is cheap and what is not and communication is difficult when English isn’t your first language.”
ISA serves as an umbrella organization for people from different backgrounds to get together, have fun and help each other solve common problems such as issues affecting their home countries, much like a support group. Though about 15 to 30 students attend group meetings, the mailing list is around 400 email addresses long.
“It’s a very good opportunity to get closer to your fellow students,” said Weiping Wang ’04, a native of Singapore. “I’ve made very lasting friendships.” Besides orienting freshmen international students, ISA also organizes campus-wide projects that promote cultural awareness.
Every year, various members organize a dance party, which was called Technodrome this year. They also sponsor the biannual poetry night and their main project of the year is the international dinner for the campus. Members cook a variety of ethnic dishes and perform various skits, dances and talents.
The ISA’s most recent project is the International Film Festival. Every week until the end of the semester, ISA will feature a foreign film including internationally acclaimed favorites such as “Life is Beautiful,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “Seven Samurai” in the Campus Center.