As someone that has never traveled outside of the United States and has lived in a small town for most of her life, my interactions on an international level have been limited. However, I have met a number of wonderful people that are international exchange students through my occupation as a Student Manager for the University of Kansas’ Ekdahl Dining Hall. The University of Kansas requires all international students to work a part time job while they are in the United States. Due to this rule, a lot of international students work at Ekdahl, and, every year, a majority of Ekdahl Dining Hall’s part-time staff is made up of international students.
The relationships and atmosphere at work is very interesting because of this group of students. During my time at KU, I have experienced Indian exchange students become very good friends with Pakistani exchange students despite the tension that those two countries experience. I have also worked with students to accommodate certain restrictions that they have because of their religion or culture, such as an employee who could not handle meat because of his religion. Some of these occurrences have been shocking. There have been more times than I can count where I had to train an employee how to use a broom to sweep the floor because they grew up in a household that employs dozens of maids. In other cases, some employees did not take my position as a student manager seriously because I am a woman and women do not normally operate in positions of power in the country that they are from. As an individual who had not been exposed to much diversity prior to attending the University of Kansas, some of these situations came as something of a shock to me; however, these circumstances helped deepen my understanding of different cultures.
Learning about different cultures and how to interact with those cultures has impacted my life greatly. I was inspired early on in my college career to pursue a degree in Political Science with a minor focus in Middle East Studies. If it were not for the friendships and experiences, I made with those international part times students, I would not be pursing this field of study. This job has helped me grow exponentially. Not just in terms as a worker, but also as a person.
About the Author
Noelle is a senior at the University of Kansas majoring in Political Science. She was a visiting student at the IRC as part of Nonprofit Shadow Day, organized by Nonprofit Connect. Noelle will be interning through KU in Washington D.C. during the upcoming spring semester before graduating in May 2020.