Teach the Earth > Early Career > International Faculty > Social challenges

Social Challenges

Participants at the 2006 Early Career Geoscience Faculty workshop. Photo by Carol Ormand.

As a foreigner on your campus, you may feel like an "outsider," or you may be under additional stresses because your family is far away. Here are some tips for dealing with social challenges, gathered from your peers.

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Feeling isolated

Any new faculty member can feel isolated, as a result of moving to a new location and working long hours, mostly independently. To overcome these feelings, reach out:

  • Host a potluck party for all of the other new faculty members (or those in the sciences, if you are at a very large institution), early in the term.
  • Find out about international students on campus: do they have a social organization? When does it meet? Go and introduce yourself.
  • Introduce yourself to the staff of the offices on campus for international students, travel abroad programs, or language departments.

Distance from family

  • Webcasts can be free and provide a great way to see and interact with folks at a distance, not just hear them. For example, you can draw collaborative pictures with children far away on the computer and talk with them at the same time.

Dealing with racism/ignorance

While you may never have to deal with this kind of intolerance, it's best to be prepared.

  • Proactively build a network of friends/supporters at your institution by reaching out to colleagues. Teach them about your culture as you learn about theirs.
  • Work to create cultural exchanges on your campus, perhaps through the office of multicultural affairs.
  • Remember that racial hostility is based in ignorance, and has nothing to do with you as a person.

Establishing healthy working relationships with students

  • Take some guidance from your senior colleagues here, but remember that your relative youth may already provide a less formal atmosphere than that of those colleagues. Don't confuse being popular with doing a good job!


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