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International Student Advisory Board AY 2015-2016

Suzie Kim, Chairsuzie

I am a senior at Columbia College majoring in Psychology and East Asian Languages and Cultures. I am from Seoul, South Korea and my first language is Korean. The most favorite thing that I love to do in New York is eating delicious desserts. I have a very bad sweet tooth, so apart from frequently going to Insomnia Cookies and Hungarian Pastry at Morningside Heights, I often go downtown with my friends to hunt for desserts!

The reason I decided to join ISAB was to become a supportive advisor and an encouraging friend for other international students who are facing diverse challenges. When I first came to the United States, I remember feeling lost as I tried to adjust to a drastically different culture. I believe other international students struggle with similar problems. With the strategies and tips I acquired through my own experiences, I want other students to successfully and quickly adjust to the community at Columbia. After studying abroad in China this summer, I also realized the importance of intercultural learning. As a peer advisor for Office of Global Programs and a member of ISAB I am eager to actively promote cross-cultural learning amongst. I am most excited to help organize awesome activities and social events for students throughout the year. Overall, I am confident that ISAB would become an active voice, a responsible and trustworthy student body for international students at Columbia.

Ryan Davies


My name is Ryan Davies and I'm a sophomore in SEAS planning to major in Electrical Engineering. I was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa and have spent most of my life within 15 minutes of the hospital where I was born. I love playing any sport I can rope a few friends into and think nothing can beat a lazy Sunday with a book. Since I have moved to New York I have picked up a few new hobbies that include subway surfing, Netflix and trying to understand how football (the American one) works. I am involved in the CU chapter of Engineers Without Borders and was lucky enough to be on the summer travel team to Uganda which was certainly an experience and a half.

I am excited for the year coming up on the ISAB because it gives me an opportunity to interact and serve what is certainly one of the most interesting demographics on campus: internationals. The great diversity of cultures present at Columbia makes it both different to everywhere else and difficult to adjust to sometimes. In working with the ISAB I hope to take in as much as I can from everyone I work with and make living in a different country just a little bit easier for freshmen and upperclassmen hopefully. Similarly, I am aiming to be an OL at next years ISOP which is where many international students get their first look into Columbia.

Kaatje Simone Greenbergkaatje

My name is Kaatje Greenberg and I'm a sophomore in CC majoring in history and political science. I was born in New York, but grew up just outside of Frankfurt, Germany. I speak German, French, and am learning Russian. I love traveling to different countries and exploring different cultures and languages. 

As a member of ISAB, I hope to support and strengthen the international community at Columbia by representing the diverse voices of international students in each facet of the Columbia experience. Integrating and succeeding in the US college environment can be daunting for multicultural students, and I hope that, as a member of ISAB, I can help address this issue and create an ever better supportive network for Columbia's international undergraduates. 

Varun Hegde

My name is Varun Hegde - I am a junior in SEAS majoring in Chemical Engineering along with the pre-med track. I am from Mumbai, India and speak English and Hindi (the national language of my country). I am passionate about RealityStep - a non-profit startup at Columbia that works to give every high school student a path to higher education. My interests range from swimming, karate, and fencing to enjoying the great culinary wonders of New York City.

As an International student I have been greeted by a welcoming community here at Columbia. The constantly warm atmosphere that has surrounded me has made me feel so accepted. As a member of ISAB I want to make sure that this community continues to help international students to the point that they can call Columbia home. I wish to build on this atmosphere and help international students share their culture and express themselves in ways they haven't before.

Joanna Suwen Lee

I’m Joanna, a junior at Columbia College. I major in Comparative Literature, with a focus on 20th Century Chinese literature and conceptions of the “West” found within the body of literary and cultural work of the period. I grew up in Singapore before coming to Columbia, and can speak both German and Chinese besides English. I like to tell people that German is the language of my mind, Chinese the language of my heart, and English just about everything in between.joanna

I joined ISAB because I believe very strongly in cross-cultural exchange and the integration of international students into the Columbia community without compromising the unique cultural identities of students at Columbia. I’m proud to be a part of such a diverse campus community, and as an ISAB member would like to foster an emotionally safe yet intellectually challenging environment for students from different backgrounds to learn from each other with open minds.

Christopher Linchris

Hey y’all—Chris here. I am a senior in the college majoring in Financial Economics and Computer Science-Mathematics. My short attention span may have settled on a few subjects too many, but I swear it is a huge asset. When it comes to food and travel, I go for anything and everything. For this, I thank my international background.

Whether growing up as a Chinese born in Canada or later a “foreigner” in China, I never felt like I belonged. Slowly, not fitting in became an advantage, a motivation, and a source of comfort—my identity. Honored to be part of the ISAB, I want to help unveil this unique asset in my fellow international students.

Dafne Murillo

I am a freshman at Columbia planning to major in Economics. I was born and raised in Lima, Peru but spent many of my holidays in the Peruvian jungle where my grandmother lives. I am fond of art in any of its expressions, so to live in New York is a great adventure for me. I enjoy debating, listening to Latino music and participating in volunteer work. Back in Peru I participated in various social programs and got to know the many faces of inequality in Latin America – a topic I’m always ready to talk about. I speak Spanish and French, and I’m working on my Quechua. 

Being part of the ISAB in my first year is a fascinating opportunity. As an international student in Columbia, I learnt first-hand how difficult it is to adapt to life away from your home, family and friends, while at the same time try to assimilate into a different culture. The idea of ​​helping other students in the same situation as motivated me to apply to join ISAB, as well as the chance of joining a small and diverse family of people from different places and cultures. 

Sahil Rai

I am Sahil Rai, a freshmen at Columbia College from Mumbai, India. I speak English, Hindi, and Guajarati (the local language of the state in India where my family is from) and I plan to major to double major in Financial Economics and Applied Mathematics. I am very passionate about travelling and photography and I love exploring new places and meeting new people. I hope my freshmen year at Columbia and in New York City will be more exciting than I could have ever imagined.

When I came to US I thought adjusting to the new culture will be a lot easier that it actually was. I have realized that adjusting is a difficult process and often people need the help to do the same. By being part of ISAB, I want to make this transition to a new culture smoother and enriching for all international students, especially freshmen. Being an international student also means that you have to do some things that most of your friends do not have to, such as getting travel signatures, following the guidelines for OPT etc and I, along with ISAB, want to specifically be there to help in such areas to hopefully make the lives of international students at Columbia a little bit easier and more comfortable.

International at Columbia


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