Intercultural center spotlights international, first-gen students


Courtesy / Saint Anselm College Intercultural Center

Transitions program hosted by the Intercultural Center

Patrick McGann, Crier Staff

Saint Anselm College is an institution that strongly promotes intercultural acceptance and celebration of different cultures. The college currently enrolls 14 international students from 11 different countries from Europe, Africa, Asia, South America, and Australia. Saint Anselm College’s nationally recognized Intercultural Center is the school’s hub for all cultural celebrations and is one of campus’ most welcoming and outgoing organizations. 

The college’s 14 international students come from the countries of Egypt, Spain, Nicaragua, China, the United Kingdom (2), Vietnam, Germany (2), Mexico, Italy, Australia (2), and Russia. Of these students, all but one play sports, including men’s basketball, field hockey, and tennis. The Fr. Jonathan Center for Intercultural Learning and Inclusion, or the Intercultural Center, takes a prominent role in caring for these students and making sure they adjust to college life in New Hampshire. As a part of this, each international student begins their time at Saint Anselm College participating in the Transitions Program, which takes place before Orientation. This program is designed to help these new students get acclimated to the college and college life in a new country. In addition to helping with their move in, the Intercultural Center ensures that these students have places to stay during school break, have all travel plans and visa requirements in order, have all banking and financial needs met, as well as many other courtesies. 

Matilda Briegel is a first-year international student from Germany who is a member of the college tennis team. Knowing she wanted a school that would challenge her academically and athletically, Matilda made a trip around the world to Manchester, NH. “I learned about Saint Anselm while I was searching for a college that would allow me to combine a high level of education with a high level of tennis. That’s why I came here, as well as because of the amazing people on the tennis team and the coaches who made me feel very welcome.” Matilda was met with the challenge of being a first-year international college student and a student athlete. When asked about what helped her make this difficult adjustment, she said, “I took part in the Transitions program, where I met really kind people. I wasn’t able to be at all the events because we [the tennis team] were in preseason, and I had practice at most of the events. I could make it to bowling which was really fun. It was my first time driving in a typical American school bus and I was really excited.” As part of the Anselmian value of hospitality, the college takes pride in making all students, regardless of where they come from, feel at home on the Hilltop. “So far my time has been great,” Matilda said. “I learn a lot. In my classes, in practice, but also about myself. Of course, there are some adjustments like the food, sharing a dorm, and managing my time with my classes and practice and everything, but it has been going well so far and I am excited to be here.” 

The Intercultural Center provides support and services to several groups in the college community, including international students, first-generation college students, and commuter students. The college finished celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month earlier this month and plans to celebrate Indigenous People’s Month are in the works. For this month, the Intercultural Center will be hosting a movie night showcasing the 2017 film Indian Horse. In addition to this, Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum will be doing an event on campus highlighting Native American art and artifacts at the college in. celebration of Indigenous People’s Month.

 In addition to these celebrations, Saint Anselm College was named a member of the 2022-2023 First-Gen Forward cohort by the Center of First-Generation Student Success. The First-Gen Forward designation recognizes institutions of higher education who have demonstrated a commitment to improving experiences and advancing outcomes of first-generation college students. First-generation students make up 22% of the student body at Saint Anselm, and the Intercultural Center was the leading force behind the college’s initiative to bring in and support first generation college students, which resulted in this national recognition of excellence. 

Wayne Currie, Director of the Intercultural Center, sees the main goal of the center to just be a welcoming presence for the college. “This is a space for everyone, and it is very inclusive. We want to serve each student and be able to support them with whatever they need or direct them to someone who can help them more. Each person’s success is important here and we want to be the organization on campus everyone feels welcomed to.” The Intercultural Center, located on the main floor of the Student Center, is a place for all members of the student body to be welcomed and receive any type of support needed to succeed at Saint Anselm College.  

Preformers interacting with kids from Multicultural Day 2022- (Courtesy / Saint Anselm Intercultural Center)
International flag display at Multicultural Day 2022- (Courtesy / Saint Anselm Marketing)
Writing table from Multicultural Day 2022 (Courtesy / Saint Anselm Marketing )