Don't Forget to Breathe
I sit here in the comfort of the Sullivan Student Center for very possibly the last time and I reminisce on what has been an amazing adventure it has been for me here at St. Lawrence. I have had a quality education that expands learning beyond classrooms, I was able to participate in activities I wouldn't have dreamt of, and I was able to navigate and explore my own intersectionality within the St. Lawrence community. However, I would lie to you if I said that every day the University was a fairytale because it was not. Earlier in the year, I decided that 2020 would be the year of truths and this blog is no less. As every student does, I went through periods of “highs” followed by periods of “lows” and the added complexity of being an international student would often contribute to longer periods of “lows”. Whether you’re a first-year student, a senior, or anywhere in between, knowing the resources offered by the school can help you navigate your experiences. Rather than focusing on traditional resources that have been expertly highlighted, I choose to focus on the more experiential resources that I have accumulated throughout my three and a half years.
For students of color attending predominantly white institutions (PWI), my first resource is interacting with the faculty of color. I consider myself somewhat lucky because my FYP professor was a professor from Ghana. I found myself in the comfort of a professor that understood the difficulties that are associated with being an international student. The language barrier, the cultural dissimilarities, the homesickness all seemed to disappear when I approached the professor and just had a heart-to-heart conversation. Knowing the struggles communities of color have to face at a PWI, many faculty members of color will open doors and pass down valuable advice to students to smoothen their experiences.
The second resource that I suggest for students of color is exploring the surrounding areas around St. Lawrence. My transition from a big city to a small village was tough, but it has its advantages. There is ample opportunity to explore the area around St. Lawrence. Carrying the identity of an international student meant that I had limited opportunities to go home, however, the North Country became an adopted home for me. Whether that was traveling to Saranac Lake for the Winter Carnival Parade, or going to Blue Mountain Lake to visit the Adirondack Experience, exploring the surrounding areas gave me plenty of time to self-reflect and explore my own identity. This carries onto my last piece of advice.
Lastly, and I can't stress enough, is taking care of yourself. I will pass down advice an alumnus of color once passed down to me:
“My friend, your journey to this moment in time is immaculate, this world isn't ready for your magic yet. To keep your magic shining means to prioritize yourself. Know when to take on challenges, but also know your breaking point."
Apart from the more tangible resources available on campus, students have a variety of intangible resources to make your journey easier. As I come to the end of my own journey, I wish to pass on this metaphorical baton to the next batch of kings, queens, and everything in between that will grace this campus with their hard work, determination, and magic.