The International Club - known as I-20 after the form that allows foreign students entry into the United States - brings together around 145 students from 35 countries. For international students, I-20 is a home-away-from-home, and for American students, it is a place to learn about global cultures on campus. Most international students remember I-20 as their first real taste of Swarthmore, when they arrive for a 5-day freshman orientation, often directly off the plane and jetlagged.
Avilash Pahi '13
"For an international student coming to foreign shores, the first few days can be quite daunting and overwhelming. However, the International Orientation Committee does their best to introduce students to live in America and at Swarthmore. The various information sessions about issues like obtaining a Social Security Card and finding a job on campus, or the recreational activities like field trips to Philadelphia and campus tours,help us to adjust to life on campus. Needless to say, International Orientation remains one of the most cherished times in an international student's life at Swarthmore."
The first-years are introduced to the campus, ferried to Target and Staples to get their school supplies, and taken to Philadelphia on a day trip. In the process, they form friendships that last well beyond their college years. International alumni regularly inform current students about job, internship and graduate school opportunities via the I-20 mailing list.
I-20 works closely with the international student advisor and offers help on everything from cell phone subscription to financial management. It also organizes mentor and big sibling programs, as well as international recruitment drives. Every year, the club hosts a Faculty Dinner, where students get together and cook up a mouth-watering international feast for their favorite professors. International Week gives students a chance to showcase the cultures of their home countries, and to top it all off, the annual I-20 Paces party boasts a playlist of international music that makes it one of the most anticipated social events on campus.
International students eventually have no problems fitting in at Swarthmore, but their love for I-20 is evident during weekly dinner meetings, when everyone squeezes into a small room to share stories in different languages. The diversity represented in I-20 carries into classroom and college policy discussions, continually benefiting and enriching the Swarthmore community.