Last week, the 25th Annual Students of Color Conference (SoCC), which was sponsored by the Washington State Multicultural Student Services’ Director Council (MSSDC), took place in Yakima, WA. From April 23 to April 25, over 800 students from 33 technical and community colleges across Washington state gathered to celebrate their personal identities, nurture leadership, discuss social issues, and work towards intercultural understanding. The conference consisted of various workshops that students could freely attend based on their interests, and outside of the workshop rooms they were able to connect with each other and build friendships.
Among eleven students that represented Cascadia College, Atha Lia was one of our international students that attended the conference. She is an international student from Indonesia. We’ve successfully reached her for comments about her experiences and the impact the conference made on her.
Q: What made you interested to participate in the Students of Color Conference?
A: Student Color Conference was a great opportunity for college students to gain new experiences in learning new things and to make new friends from other countries around the world. I also think that it would be good for my resume as well, as I am currently planning to apply for a job in Cascadia.
Q: Before you went, what did you expect from the Students of Color Conference?
A: I expected to gain new [information] about things that I haven’t understood and known before.
Q: Which workshop interested you the most and what did you learn from it?
A: For me, the most interesting workshop that I had was the last one, which was called “Me, Myself, and I”. It reflected [ourselves] as [women], who [have] not always been respected by other gender. This workshop helped me understand how I have to see myself as part of a woman, who is strong and totally [has] the ability to be as [good] as the others, especially men. It also encouraged me to never give up, even when I am in the hardest time of my life. “We shared, we cared”, was what basically this session was trying to say.
Q: What was the best thing that you experienced at the conference?
A: What I loved the most of being part of a student who went to this conference was that I had the chance to learn [other] things, such as [other] cultures [of] which most were [totally] different from the country where I lived back then. I learned how things which are basically “illegal” in my country, are allowed here, and people definitely would not judge you as being “different”.
Q: How this conference make you a better student?
A: This conference opens my sight of view about this world. It is not [still] the same “me” when I walked out from that place. The things that I have never known before, the things that I totally haven’t ever noticed, were shown as I joined the sessions. I used to be ‘unnoticeable’ before. But since I joined this conference, it made me more open to everyone. I also felt the change in my social life. Before, I often felt shy and embarrassed when it came to discussion and gave opinions. But now, I feel more comfortable to talk in front of people.
Q: How will you encourage Cascadia international students to participate in the conference next year?
A: I would like to tell other international students about my experiences at the Students of Color Conference, since it is a good opportunity which they should not miss!
Would you like to learn more what other international students have to say about the SoCC? Join us at the panel discussion on Tuesday, May 5, 2015 from 1:15 pm to 2:30 pm in Mobius Hall! This is your chance to ask questions directly to the students who participated in the conference. We’ll see you there!
Images are courtesy of Lea Hakim.
EDIT: The last question and answer were added on 05/01/2015 at 4:14 PM.