Another warm and joyful spring semester has arrived with its lively signs appearing at all corners of our campus. Alongside these signals, KAIST International Students Association (KISA) is also greeting the semester with fresh and renewed enthusiasm as it welcomes its new president – Amalina Wahab. The KAIST Herald met with the president to discuss her plans for the future of KISA.
Could you briefly introduce yourself and your role within KISA before you were elected as president?
Hello to all! I am Nur Amalina Wahab from Malaysia and I am currently a sophomore in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. I joined KISA from Spring 2013 and started out as part of the Task Force Team. I was later promoted to Head of the Events Team, where I worked closely with the International Students and Scholars (ISSS) Team to hold various activities and programs for international students.
Can you tell us what your main motivations for running as KISA president this year?
As I have just mentioned, prior to being elected, I have had a lot of experience working “behind the scenes” for campus events, during which I was able to observe and evaluate KISA from both a cabinet member’s and an outside spectator’s point of view. I believe that KISA has the potential to become much more influential in the international student body. However, in order to gain such reputation and impact, KISA needs to become better structured within its cabinet and also provide more opportunities to all non-KISA members to raise their voices. I hope that with enough help and support, I will be able to lead KISA towards this goal.
How have the experiences since your official inauguration been similar or different from your expectations?
Prior to the inauguration, I was quite nervous and overwhelmed by the amount of responsibility entrusted upon me. Yet at the same time, I was very excited for this chance to make a meaningful difference in the school. Since the start of my presidential term in January, it has been very busy but also very enjoyable, as I had the pleasure to meet and converse with many people and organizations that share the same interest in assisting international students with their lives at KAIST. I also realized that certain changes cannot be carried out right away but will rather need more time and resources to be made feasible.
From your perspective, what are some main problems international students are facing at the moment and how do you plan to address them throughout your year as president?
I think the most apparent problem we all have to face as a foreign student is the lack of understanding about KAIST and Korean culture. Whether it is about applying for a course, traveling around Daejeon, or simply making acquaintance with a Korean friend, we in general need more information. To assist international students in this respect, KISA will be having a Korean Affairs and Community Outreach Team with students who will work onproviding answers, as well as consultations, for any student who needs help adapting to the KAIST environment. We are also creating new platforms, such as the annual BizWorld Entrepreneurship Conference, where foreign and Korean students can exchange knowledge as well as cultural backgrounds.
Another issue raised by group of Muslimstudents is the need for a Halal food court in KAIST, for which KISA is currently collaborating with the Undergraduate Student Council and the Muslim Student Association to agree on the best possible option. Meanwhile, the International Kitchen, where a lot of Muslim students are using to cook their own food, will soon be renovated to become safer and more convenient for its users.
Finally, do you have any last messages you would like to deliver to our readers?
From this semester on, KISA will be making full use of social network services such as Facebook, Twitter, the KISA website,as well as our consulting email (email@example.com) to create better lines of communications with the entire community. We want to encourage all students to freely express their opinions and for them to understand that their thoughts are of value to us. KISA should be and, with your help, will be an organization by and for all international students here at KAIST.
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