This summer, the International Student Programs (ISP) office integrated into the Office of Intercultural Life (OIL), leading to massive changes in personnel and staff responsibilities. The official and physical turnover occurred on Aug. 28th.
Joy Kluttz, who will begin her second year as Director of Intercultural Life in January, is excited about the merging of the two offices under a joint organization, which she reveals will take the new abbreviation ‘OIIL’ to stand for Office of Intercultural and International Life. She notes that though this transition means a lot more to think about as a joint office, such cooperation between the once separate organizations is not unprecedented. Both OIL and ISP have collaborated in activities such as the annual International Festival held in spring term.
There have been dramatic changes to staff responsibilities, with the addition of positions such as Associate Director and Assistant Director of Intercultural Life, Luyen Phan and DeAngelo Washington respectively, as well as Intercultural & International Life Advisor Isaiah J. Thomas.
Kluttz has worked with ISP staff before, and she deems the merge a very natural fit. Both ISP and OIL have been student-centered, and now OIIL concentrates to provide support for both students of color and international students.
Although the transition is not a huge challenge, Kluttz does admit that “OIIL is still on a learning curve, because when international students arrive at the office for support, we will recommend them in particular to Luyen because of his expertise with international policy.”
Similarly, not everything is a walk in the park for Luyen, for time is still necessary to become properly acquainted with U.S. policies and regulations. Kluttz remark, “Everyone at OIIL is still learning, and this transition may take years.”
Robert Stephens II ’10 currently works as an Intercultural Peer Assistant (IPA) at OIL and views the joining of the two previously separate organizations as promising.
“International students are by definition intercultural, so it is not a stretch to include them under this office [OIL],” he said.
Stephens draws his confidence from personal experience regarding the coexistence of both domestic and international cultures. Alongside co-workers Alex Waters ‘10 and Nimo Ali ‘11, Stephens is responsible for the coordination of bringing the redefinition of ‘intercultural life’ to Carleton students. Various students at OIL are Intercultural Peer Leaders (IPL’s) and serve as mentors for incoming Carleton students.
During his freshman and sophomore year, Stephens lived with international students and is well-aware of the transition to become accustomed to life at Carleton and ultimately in the U.S. His own domestic intercultural values neatly intersected with those of his roommates’, creating a truly new experience. With this in mind he is certain that the formal merging of OIL with international programs will succeed.
The question of who ultimately made the decision to incorporate OIL with international programs is unclear. Stephens is uncertain whether or not OIL had a say regarding their final unison, though he is definite that the office is excited about it new opportunities and is very involved with its reorganization.
The definition of ‘success’ for the office remains unclear. The office’s mission statement is to facilitate intercultural connections and allow the Carleton campus to become a community equipped to healthily develop these relations. Originally an office set up to provide support to incoming students of color, OIIL now gets questions concerning its efficiency as a resource to these students within the Carleton community in light of these new changes. Stephens reaffirms that the office remains highly supportive and helpful and will continue to remain a student-centered office.
Defining ‘intercultural’ as a blend of both domestic and international values, Stephens sees OIIL moving forward and developing strongly.
“OIIL has now allowed intercultural life at Carleton College to no longer exclusively exist as a North American invention,” he said.