It was the first day of school and Bowling Green was covered with snow. I was so not ready for it but I was excited about attending the orientation. As I walked through the aisle leading to the international office in the Honors College building, I came across the pictures of the international student diplomats and I found that awe-inspiring. I said to myself that this is where I want my picture to be. Little did I know that this vision of mine would come true.
The journey from a student to an international student diplomat was a wonderful one. I started out as any other international student, paving my way through the routine struggles of adapting to the life in the US. I looked for an on campus job and soon was able to work as a Student Union Manager in the Downing Student Union. This experience helped me get along with students from different cultures and was highly rewarding. In no time, I found myself belonging to WKU. Then I worked as a Graduate Research Assistant in the Department of Public Health. This helped me grow and evolve as a healthcare professional among professionals from various countries with exceptional talent. I joined various organizations and clubs like the Student Healthcare Association and the International Student Association and participated in a lot of fun activities. At home, I was sharing my apartment with roommates from China, Korea and India. This taught me a lot about respecting each other’s boundaries and being sensitive to others needs The beauty of the whole process is you learn to appreciate the differences and you embrace them.
A year and a half later, it was time to apply for the International Student Diplomat position. I was enthusiastic to apply for it and was well prepared. By this time, WKU had become a part of me. And there was no better way for me to give back to the Indian and other international students and to WKU. I went ahead and gave the interview. There were five of them judging us. It seemed daunting but it went well. Phew! The eight of us were selected as the International Student Diplomats from different countries. To represent my country India, among the seven other chosen diplomat countries (Canada, Estonia, Peru, Vietnam, China, Oman and Nigeria) was an honor. Being a Diplomat was not only a matter of pride but such a cool job. We were helping the new international students take baby steps and helping them overcome the little battles that we once fought. A Diplomat position is such a relatable one, everyone looks up to you as they think you have everything figured out. Trust me, none of us take our jobs lightly. We want to give you nothing but the best.
As a diplomat you have this amazing opportunity to learn new skills. I learnt to strongly communicate through social media and emails. We are actively responding to questions from the prospective student and guiding them throughout the process. Another trait that I picked up is being well organized. This is because there are a lot of tasks that you have to do; like create content, plan events and organize them, chat with students among others. We are taught to be proactive and engaging in our approach.
To be an International Student Diplomat, all you need is to have enthusiasm to serve the global student community and give back to your school. You need to entertain the thought of becoming the best version of yourself. That pursuit will resonate in your work and accomplishments. There was no way that I knew on my first day that I could make it there. But it’s all about the vision; you need to believe in what you can’t see and trust the journey. Someone rightly said, “Follow your dreams, they know the way.”