International Educator - September/October 2019 - 41

families, though space is often limited and
fills up quickly.
Jennifer Recklet Tassi is a senior
program manager at Massachusetts
Institute of Technology (MIT) who helps
acclimate the families that accompany
international postdocs and graduate
students. Because most scholars do not
receive much in terms of funding and
many of their spouses are unable to attain
work visas, it is important, she says, to
steer international families to outlying
neighborhoods that still meet each
family's needs and standards.
The U.S. school system may be
different from the system in their home
country, so ISSS advisers can provide
resources on education options for the
family to discuss and evaluate. They
"often need assistance navigating the
school enrollment process of their
children," says John Hildebrand, an
adviser in Colorado State University's
ISSS office.
How does the public school system
work? Should private school be an option?
What records are needed to determine
placement? How do coursework and
the grading scale differ from what
they are used to? Because spouses and
children typically do not need to prove
their English proficiency to stay in the
country, their language skills could be less
advanced, which could lead to challenges
at a new school.
Help comes in many forms. Hildebrand's
office works with a nonprofit community
organization that assists with school
registration and offers free English
language classes. At MIT, Recklet Tassi
connects spouses and children with an
on-campus work-life center that helps
with schooling and child care. And
Wong's office at W&M offers a free,
weekly English conversation club for
scholars' relatives.

Managing Culture Shock
It is crucial that ISSS offices acknowledge
and support dependents through their
experience with culture shock, which can
affect people differently at different times.
Experiencing an unfamiliar language,
food, or customs-along with learning
new ways to do routine tasks like banking,
grocery shopping, or managing medical
appointments-can take an emotional,
mental, and physical toll.
In late fall each year-before winter sets
in-Recklet Tassi delivers a presentation
about what to expect from culture shock.
"That's the time that most people have
[already] figured out public transportation,
the grocery, and their housing, and now it's
getting colder and darker, and that's a really
tough time for people."
She refers many spouses experiencing
culture shock-and the depression that can
come with it-to mental health counselors.
"Our job is to provide these resources
and referrals so people can adapt and
do whatever they want to do," Recklet
Tassi says. "Whether that's study, work,
volunteer, or care for their children."

Evading Isolation and
Building Community
Many spouses give up their careers to
accompany scholars and students abroad.
While some spouses may embrace the
challenges and the chance to try new
things, others may find themselves
housebound, homesick, and unable to
develop strong social connections because
of language barriers.
"No one wants to be homebound
and bored," said Jennifer Kelley, the
ISSS lead at the University of North
Carolina-Greensboro.
Like ISSS offices at many institutions,
Kelley's office helps dependents connect
with their communities through schools,
social clubs, and religious groups. Other

NAFSA Resources
Supporting International Spouses and Dependents: bit.ly/2IlsTSV
Health and Wellness: bit.ly/2JQhuNk

ISSS advisers may guide spouses toward
resources on child care, support groups,
new and expectant parent groups,
cultural groups, volunteer activities,
low-cost education, mental health
counseling, and more. Many of these local
groups organize events for international
spouses and children and offer in-person
consultations to help them adapt and find
their own purpose.
Recklet Tassi's staff hosts peer-led
parent groups, weekly gatherings with
free child care, and speaker events that
include spouses who share an interest
or area of expertise. Her office at MIT
also connects spouses with a program
that helps them to develop work skills
or find work, assuming the spouse has a
work visa.
Similarly, Hampton runs the
International Spouses and Partners at Yale
(ISPY), which offers a two-day orientation
for international scholars and their spouses
or partners, weekly meetings where
spouses can mingle, and a daily English
conversation group that offers insights on
U.S. life and culture.
"Typically, when spouses come to
us they are looking for help finding
community, getting a Yale ID card to
access certain things at the university,
applying for work permission, and job
hunting," said Hampton. ISPY encourages
spouses to get involved and create their
own enriching experiences during their
stay in the United States.
At W&M, the International Family
Network links spouses and children
with others who have gone through the
transition so they can help newcomers
adapt. These interactions serve as a
reminder that any feelings of displacement
or culture shock that the dependents
experience are usually only temporary.
"Family members can sometimes be
a forgotten group on campus," Wong
said. "It is important for ISSS offices
to highlight their contributions and
collaborate with on- and off-campus
partners to meet their needs." n
DANA WILKE is a freelance writer based
in Alexandria, Virginia.
S E P T + O C T. 20 19 INTERNATIONAL EDUCATOR

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http://www.bit.ly/2IlsTSV http://www.bit.ly/2JQhuNk

International Educator - September/October 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of International Educator - September/October 2019

From the Desk of
In Brief
Global Spotlight: Chile
Quick Questions
Feature: Countering the Forces of Change
Feature: Raising the Bar
Feature: Branching Out
Education Abroad
International Student Affairs
International Enrollment Management
International Education Leadership
Forum
Take 5
International Educator - September/October 2019 - Cover1
International Educator - September/October 2019 - Cover2
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 1
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 2
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 3
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 4
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 5
International Educator - September/October 2019 - From the Desk of
International Educator - September/October 2019 - In Brief
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 8
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 9
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 10
International Educator - September/October 2019 - Global Spotlight: Chile
International Educator - September/October 2019 - Quick Questions
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 13
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 14
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 15
International Educator - September/October 2019 - Feature: Countering the Forces of Change
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 17
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 18
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 19
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 20
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 21
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 22
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 23
International Educator - September/October 2019 - Feature: Raising the Bar
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 25
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 26
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 27
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 28
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 29
International Educator - September/October 2019 - Feature: Branching Out
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 31
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 32
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 33
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 34
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 35
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 36
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 37
International Educator - September/October 2019 - Education Abroad
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 39
International Educator - September/October 2019 - International Student Affairs
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 41
International Educator - September/October 2019 - International Enrollment Management
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 43
International Educator - September/October 2019 - International Education Leadership
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 45
International Educator - September/October 2019 - Forum
International Educator - September/October 2019 - 47
International Educator - September/October 2019 - Take 5
International Educator - September/October 2019 - Cover3
International Educator - September/October 2019 - Cover4
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