As an international graduate student, I often hear the common concern that we are somehow not connected to the hard core Aggie culture. On one hand, we didn’t experience Aggieland as an undergrad, therefore missed a lot of opportunities to learn and embrace the values and traditions. On the other hand, many of us are not familiar with the American educational environment before we came here, so we had a hard time finding the right event or occasion to build our sense of belonging.
This week, I was fortunately enough to participate in a program co-hosted by our International Student Services and our Corps of Cadets, which helped me a lot to better understand this important population on campus. They are our classmates, our friends, and maybe students in the classes that we’re teaching. It is truly amazing to get to know them up close and interact with them from an international student’s perspective.
Our program is called CADET Quad Tour, and a student organization/special unit called C.A.D.E.T. (Cultural Awareness and Diversity Expansion Team) guided us throughout the program. We toured the Quad, an area on campus that most of us are not so familiar with; attended their formation and Thursday night yell practice; we even had the chance to share a chow (meal, as they call it) with the cadets at Duncan Dining Hall. And of course, many curious questions were being answered, and people were very excited even at the end. Three hours didn’t feel like a long time at all.
This experience is way beyond my expectation because I got to know not only the cadets’ living, studying, and training environment, but also their educational experience and career perspectives. During the program, an international student is being paired up with a cadet, and the cadet can in turn learn about new cultures and international students’ experience in American college. For both of us, we won’t be able to enjoy this kind of cultural exchange without this program. I hope the International Student Services and the C.A.D.E.T. team will continue to co-host this program in the future, and I want to encourage all our non-Corps friends to go and participate.
Mingqian is a doctoral student in the Department of Architecture