Hear from past ISAB Leaders The ISAB Experience

A message from the 2022-2023 ISAB Members

Vivien Yiu headshot
Graduate School of Education, from Hong Kong/Mainland China
Vivien Yiu

The international student and scholar community is the most diverse, vibrant, and resilient group of individuals that I have had the honor to work with. Together, we have navigated the unique challenges caused by national policy changes and the Covid 19 pandemic, by fostering collaboration across different administrative departments and launching initiatives that place the wellbeing of international students at the center. ISAB is a mission-driven organization - through our advocacy work, we spoke up, so our voices were heard. We took actions, so more programs were developed specifically for international students. We supported each other, so our community remained strong and was empowered to do great work!

Graduation Photo of Derya Yavuz
School of Engineering and Applied Science, from Turkey
Derya Yavuz

Perhaps the most formative experiences of my Penn life, the leadership and advocacy opportunities ISAB gave me and continues to give many international students are unparalleled. With the amazing ISSS team’s support, ISAB continues to provide us international students with a medium to advocate for our welfare and make our voices heard by bringing together smart, talented, diverse and passionate people. It was my absolute honor to be a member of the ISAB leadership team for years and represent our community, creating projects that will positively impact international students and executing them one by one. It is clear that with the amount of talent and passion ISAB attracts, it will not cease to be the powerful driving force that ameliorates international student life. 

James Goh
James Goh

Through the amalgamation of our diverse experiences, perspectives, and values, international students both contribute to and benefit from a vibrant and multi-cultural Penn community. I am therefore immensely grateful to ISSS and Penn Global for the opportunity to contribute to ISAB. It has been one of my most meaningful and impactful experiences at Penn. Whether it is streamlining visa applications or revamping the ISSS website, ISSS and Penn Global has been incredibly responsive to the concerns of international students. Indeed, having been to multiple Ivy League conferences for international students, I am deeply impressed by and appreciative of how forward-looking Penn has been. I am confident that international students will play an increasingly critical role in advancing Penn’s preeminence as a global institution.

Image of Ben Partridge
School of Arts and Sciences, from the United Kingdom
Benjamin Partridge

Navigating the Penn experience as an international student brings its own set of unique and nuanced challenges. Participating in ISAB provides a united voice for international students to engage in dialogue with the Penn community about what it means to be international at Penn. As a former Graduate Chair, I was most impressed with the close ties between ISAB and its partners in multiple offices and agencies around Penn's campus. ISAB is able to tap into a network of dedicated, passionate administrators, and conduct focused and meaningful collaborative work. Not only does ISAB improve the life of international students, but it also enriches the lives of all Penn students, faculty and staff by sharing our intercultural perspectives and ensuring that the international student voice is always heard.

Image of Chhavi Aggarwal
Wharton School, from India and Singapore
Chhavi Aggarwal

ISAB is a highly mission-based organization that seeks to affect tangible change on campus and better the international student experience. ISAB serves as the voice for all international students at Penn by maintaining strong communication channels with administrators across offices and leveraging its access to ISSS. As a former Undergraduate Chair, it is great to witness the evolution of ISAB, with each cohort of student leaders more motivated to implement creative solutions.

Image of Trixie Canivel
School of Arts and Sciences, from the Philippines
Trixie Canivel

ISAB is a unique forum that brings students and administrators together to discuss, find solutions, and implement changes to salient issues that relate to the international students of the University of Pennsylvania. This is a critical organization that makes sure that all aspects of student life are examined, for both undergraduate, and graduate international students, to ensure that their time at Penn and Philadelphia is the best possible experience.

Image of Frederick Ding
School of Engineering and Applied Science, from Canada
Frederick Ding

As the international student population at Penn continues to diversify and proliferate, our community is confronted with unique needs and issues. I am proud to be a member of an organization that works to evaluate those concerns, to design solutions with the input of many motivated peers, and to advocate for the community with administrators. ISAB builds leadership skills suited to tackling unique challenges. I am honoured to be an ISAB co-chair; it has been a memorable part of my experience.

Image of Alexander Giannakakis
School of Arts and Sciences, from Egypt
Alexander Giannakakis

ISAB is a great way to meet other international students who share similar concerns and who are looking for similar responsibilities as you. It was a place where I made sense of the huge and sometimes imposing structure of the University. It is also a great opportunity to meet all the staff and faculty who are International- friendly and to learn how they see our experiences from their perspective. I highly recommend that you apply and take part of this great organization. Best of all you get to spend quality time with Dr. Altamirano, a truly amazing person who has served as a great advocate and has substantially ameliorated the state of international student affairs at UPenn. Keep up the great work Rudie!

Image of Zehua Hahn
Graduate School of Education, from China
Zehua Hahn

Being the Graduate Co-Chair of International Student Advisory Board was one of my most rewarding experiences at PENN, developing my mentoring and leadership skills and enhancing my public speaking and intercultural communications abilities while it integrated me into the PENN network of faculty, staff and student and professional organizations on campus. In this environment, it was clear that, by sharing my experience as an international student with others, I was part of an essential service provided by PENN that offered a direct channel for international students to communicate with campus administrators, apprising them of the issues and concerns important to international students. ISAB has created a strong international student community by establishing a sense of companionship and fostering a sense of belonging and inclusion which has empowered international students by making it manifest to them that their voices are heard, thus giving them a greater stake in PENN.

Image of Manisha Joshi
School of Social Policy & Practice, from India
Manisha Joshi

Penn is more global now than ever before with students representing more than hundred countries. If we truly wish to embrace our international student community, we need to offer forums where students and university administrators can engage constructively and create innovative solutions to international students’ concerns and enrich their experience. Penn’s ISAB is one such innovative endeavor: it helps develop leadership skills among students, provides a venue for international students to interact, and helps international students and administrators to sit on one table and brainstorm about a variety of topics. I am indeed grateful that I got the opportunity to be a part of ISAB during my time at Penn. My stint as the graduate co-chair of ISAB a couple of years back now helps me in my new role as a faculty/mentor (in another university) to international students! Much has been achieved in Penn through ISAB and I wish it grows stronger by the day.

Image of Amal Rahuman
School of Engineering and Applied Science & College of Arts and Sciences, from Sri Lanka
Amal Rahuman

ISAB has provided me with some of the most valuable and interesting experiences during my time at Penn. ISAB members are a set of highly diverse and talented undergraduate and graduate students, who act as the pulse of the international student community. They work collaboratively with University Administrators to diagnose some of the most pressing challenges facing international students and recommend/implement solutions to address these issues. This critical process of self improvement ensures that Penn is, and continues to be, a warm and welcoming place to students from all over the world. I'm glad that I was able to be a part of ISAB and I hope that it continues to be an active and engaging student body driving meaningful and necessary change within the university.

Image of Qiwei Shi
School of Engineering and Applied Science, from China
Qiwei Shi

ISAB serves as a unique student organization that represents the whole international community at Penn, directly links international students with the university administrators, and eventually makes Penn a more welcoming, diversified, and integrated place for students from all over the world. As a formal ISAB member and co-chair, I truly enjoyed the experience of being engaging, proactive, and creative working in such a fantastic group!

Image of Akshay Subramanian
Wharton School, from Dubai
Akshay Subramanian

My participation in ISAB has been a highly memorable experience during the course of my 4 years at Penn. ISAB has not only given me the opportunity to collaborate with peers and administrators to address the issues faced by the international student community but also to interact closely with a highly diverse group of individuals from many different parts of the world. ISAB is undoubtedly critical to the international student body at Penn since it offers students an effective avenue to express their concerns directly to the key administrators of the university. I am indeed glad to have been part of this organization during my time at Penn.

Image of Kwadwo Tettey
School of Engineering and Applied Science, from Ghana
Kwadwo Tettey

As the voice of international students here at Penn, ISAB functions to address issues faced by international students through useful dialogue between students and University administrators.  ISAB has given me an opportunity to play a role in this by collaborating with a dynamic group of international students in raising concerns, and more importantly, presenting recommendations to University administrators. Seeing administrators adapt these recommendations that improve the well being of all international students on campus has been a rewarding experience. In addition to this, my time in ISAB, particularly as subcommittee co-chair and graduate co-chair has been helpful for training as a global leader. My participation in ISAB will by far be one of my most unforgettable experiences as a graduate student here at Penn.