Guided by the fact that every life has equal value, Women Walking West (W3), a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, strives to help women lead a successful and productive life. When women come to the US to pursue their educational dream, they are at a greater disadvantage than foreign born men, especially women coming from underdeveloped countries. W3’s philosophy is simple: we want foreign born women to have access to the necessary opportunities needed to succeed in school and life.
According to the Institute of International Education, over 900,000 international students enrolled in US colleges and universities in 2014, and 45% were female. These numbers do not include thousands of other women who only possess a high school diploma and do not have the opportunity to enter higher education. Although the idea of the “American Dream” means many things to many people, one of the most common and important elements is the ability to further one’s self by getting a college education. For most students born outside the US, academic support and scholarships can be an invaluable asset for achieving their dream.
International Students may have difficulties in their classes when they first arrive. Cultural differences present personal and professional challenges in academics. Also, the educational culture differs from one country to another. For example, universities in the United States are more focused on class participation than any other countries. International students have a different method for studying that may not be appropriate for studying in the US. The educational approach in the US looks unfamiliar to most international students who are accustomed to expecting more guidance and help from teachers. Foreign students may lack knowledge of how to find and use information to accomplish their assignments. American higher education has gone through a major shift in curriculum design and delivery of instruction in the past 20 years. Academic institutions in the US are focusing more on “learning” vs. “teaching.” Students are more responsible for learning the subject, an approach that may be very unfamiliar and challenging to foreign students.
International students need assistance to overcome difficulties originating from linguistic, social, cultural, and academic differences in order to enhance their academic performance. However, when they have trouble in their classes, they may not be able to discern the cause of their academic problems or know where to turn for help. The truth is that our colleges and universities have not been able to give international students sufficient help and the attention required for acclimating them to a foreign land. The goal of Women Walking West is to provide additional support for international female students so they can overcome the challenges mentioned above. W3’s approach to deal with such challenges is to ask the student specific questions, understand the nature of the problem, connect the student to the appropriate partner, and follow up with that student until her issues are resolved. In other words, W3 is offering female students personal one-on-one attention and follow up until they achieve their educational goals.