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Easing the Path for Fellow Internationals

Coming to a U.S. college can bring big challenges for international students. Many struggle, especially in their first year, with stresses that can range from isolation to financial and visa uncertainties. At the College of Idaho, Irvin Brown ’19 (Bahamas, UWC-USA) knows what that’s like, and he has stepped up to make a difference.

“I’ve been in that situation before, and I understand how having somebody there to care for you, and look after you when you’re in a new environment, is really helpful,” says Irvin, who was this year’s president of the International Student Organization (ISO), and has been a mentor to younger international students. “A lot of it comes from my background in the Caribbean,” he explains. “We’re brought up to take care of each other.”

With funding they secured this year from the college, Irvin and the ISO organized a host family program for internationals on Thanksgiving, and he bought and prepared meals for them over fall, spring and winter breaks.

For these efforts and more, Irvin — who has also been a campus ambassador for prospective students, a dorm advisor, a member of the Afro Club and Diversity Council, a member of the committee that runs the Student Union Building, and a varsity soccer player — last fall received the college’s Integrity, Leadership and Service Award.

Yet even with all he does on campus, “I don’t feel like it’s more than I did at UWC,” Irvin says. “I’ve learned to not be afraid to ask for help. I try to empower the people around me, so that I won’t be the only person who knows how to run the International Student Organization.”

“He makes friends with people from all backgrounds,” observes Adan De La Paz, the college’s coordinator of international student services. “He’s a guy who’s able to get along with everybody.”