From Where I Sit: Hamilton’s international perspectives

By Nicolas Keller Sarmiento ’13

May 9, 2013

I would like to imagine that most people know what “From Where I Sit” is, but in case you’re new to this section of The Spectator, I will fill you in. “From Where I Sit” is a column in Hamilton College’s weekly newspaper, which is written (and run) solely by international students. It is a space for a minority on campus to speak out and have their voices heard. It is a space to reflect, respond and react. Students have written about the awkwardness of their first ever Halloween party, about the wonders of Adirondack Adventure friendships, about their long and unconventional roads onto the Hill and about the overall integration into college life. This column is one of the few spaces on this campus where international students’ voices are heard, and is therefore essential to the exposure of the diversity on this campus. “From Where I Sit” is a tool to learn from and a pleasure to read. I would know—I've run this column since I was a first year.

For some time, The Spectator editors decided not to publish this column on a weekly basis, citing numerous reasons why not. Previous editors didn’t want the column at all. For a long time, Barbara Britt-Hysell (Coordinator of the ESOL Program) and I argued with editors of The Spectator to keep this column, and the voices of international students, alive. Unfortunately, it’s not published on a weekly basis, yet. Hopefully, our audience will start to realize that this column plays an essential role to the college community.

(North) American high school students realize that getting into Hamilton College is no easy feat. From APs and SATs to recommendations and interviews, the average U.S. student has plenty of hurdles to pass in order to get onto the Hill. Now remember that hectic time in your life and add onto that, a few visas, mixed with a new language and a different cuisine, throw in some cultural and social discordance, don’t forget to add a crazy, bipolar Mother Nature who lets it snow in late April and finally, a sprinkle of not seeing your entire family for a year and a half. Those are a few of the many extra hurdles that international students have to cope with.

Once on the Hill, international students are praised and boasted about by the admissions department. They are always very excited to say that, apparently, 40 countries are currently represented in the student body. But after that, what happens to those international students? Who ever hears from them apart from the random information piece on the MyHamilton news feed? These are the moments when outlets like “From Where I Sit” become important so that the campus community can embrace that diversity that is so highly praised by the institution, and learn from it. Our diversity is our strength, not our weakness; and as such, why should anyone shun a text that analyses a worldly perspective on a local occurrence? “From Where I Sit” provides the campus with an international perspective that is not repeated anywhere else.

On a more personal note, I can assure you that any “From Where I Sit” writer remembers the exact first article they wrote, and how proud they were to make the school paper. I remember I was thrilled! I even sent my parents a copy of The Spectator all the way to Argentina so they could see what their son wrote. I remember that the week my first essay was out, some people who work at the diner started asking me about Argentina, because they had read my article. Writing for “From Where I Sit” provides the international student body with a sense of acceptance and of belonging.

“From Where I Sit” is one of the few things that we, international students have—please support this column and encourage other to do so as well. “From Where I Sit” was the vessel through which my Hamilton voice was first heard. Help us keep that voice alive.

“From Where I Sit” is a column dedicated to the international voices of Hamilton’s campus.  If you are an international student and are interested in contributing a column, contact Barbara Britt-Hysell (bbritthy@hamilton.edu).

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