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History of the first international student in BMC.

Morine: I am one of the international students in Bryn Mawr College. I hail from Kenya, in the Eastern part of Africa. For the few weeks I have been here, I have been mesmerised by the diverse international community in the college. What struck me the most was the history of the college from the ‘Black at Bryn Mawr’ digital tour prepared by Emma Kioko and Grace Pusey; about the white supremacy vision during the foundation of the college and admission of students from solely affluent backgrounds. Through this project I want to quench my unending curiosity by burrowing deep into the history of the college. I want to find answers to questions like who was the first African student in the college? Was she white or black? What were the stipulated conditions of her stay in the college? Bearing the nuance that Africa is a poor continent, did she afford the full tuition fees? If not, how much financial aid was given to her?

Ginneh: For my project I am interested in looking into the history of international students here at Bryn Mawr. I am interested in this topic because I have many international friends but mostly my interests stem because of my international family. My own family experience with immigration leads me to become invested in various issues concerning America’s acceptance of international people. In history some immigrants or international persons are accepted because their skin colour and beliefs resonate with those of the white superiority.

Therefore, I chose to figure out more about history with international students at an institution at Bryn Mawr. With my new knowledge of the institutions racist past, it interests me how they began extending their recruitment to foreign countries. Throughout time there were also various conflicts between the US and other European and Asian countries (e.g. WWI and WWII) and how did that affect applications. Obviously a large part of this depends on when the first international student was accepted.  I am inclined to believe that this first admitted student probably had a good deal of money as well to travel and continue their schooling for 4 years, and did this allow them to be better off?

There are many questions to be answered about this student but also Bryn Mawr’s claim to fame in diversity abroad as well. When did this switch to diversity occur? There were many years for Bryn Mawr’s institution to change and it will be interesting to find out various perspectives of international students in archives but also modern day students who attend. My partner will have a more specific focus on the experiences of the first African student to attend. I hope to use a larger scope of international students and connect the experiences of the first international student and other experiences of international students to the research found on the first African student. It was also brought to my attention that “international” groups that form on campus are generally made up of Chinese students which is probably due to the influx of wealth emerging from China making recruitment in this country to be more appealing to various institutions including Bryn Mawr. In my research I want that idea of international to stand for not only China but the worldwide community that is recruited. I intend on speaking to the financial aid director to ask questions about the international recruitment they do. Institutions like Bryn Mawr need money so what kind of sacrifices are made to countries generally not seen as wealthy. I hope to get answers from the director and also archives I can find in the library and online.

From international students here today I hope to find out if they feel Bryn Mawr really supports them. After telling them a bit about the history of international students of the past especially the first how do they feel about it. Being an American myself I cannot speak to these experiences but I am partnered with an international student who can give me a better insight into the realities of being an international student in Bryn Mawr and America in general. I hope to incorporate a couple works from the semester possibly being The Art of the Contact Zone and possibly the White- Savior Complex. But these works depend on the information I find about the first international student and her experiences.



1.Literature search: We would want to review all the readily available content inclusive of all online and paper databases, publications archival materials from the library about international students.

2.Personal interviews: We would like to interview Jennifer Russell, the Associate director of admissions and recruitment of international students in the college. I believe she will be a great resource to our project. We are also yearning to hold some interviews and talks with a few of the international students.








Anne Dalke's picture

Morine and Ginneh--
I really like the way you begin your proposal by explaining your own investments in this project; it’s very helpful to know where each of you enters. I’m also appreciating Morine’s focus on the historical experiences of Africans @ the college, and am hoping you won’t limit your questions to the experiences of only the first woman to come from that continent, but learn some more about the experiences of women who came to BMC from Africa (in what #s, from what countries in Africa, not just now, but over time?). What about the evolution of recruitment there: what have been/continue to be the challenges? What are hopes and directions for the future? I’m anticipating, too, that Ginneh’s interest in the composition, recruitment and experiences of international students more generally will form a good background and grounding for Morine’s more focused work.

Along with Jen Russell (will you interview her together?), you might approach Alice Lesnick, the new Convener for International Programs here, who leads the Lagim Tehi Tuma/Thinking Together Program, in which BiCo and Ghanaian university students join with community mentors in Northern Ghana each summer; she’s spent much time and effort thinking about, and working on, Bryn Mawr’s “international relations,” both here and abroad. You’ll want to check out the Canaday Library Special Collections as well: what can the archive tell you about our history in this regard?