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Sonder (n.) the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own

CMC keeps us busy; often times, it is hard to find the time to spend conversing with people around us, particularly the individuals who allow our school to properly function.

From the cashiers at Collins to the members of the Dean Of Students, everyone has a different and interesting story beyond their official position. This column, titled Humans Who Run CMC will attempt to cover and showcase the life stories of the people we encounter, but too often take for granted, at CMC.

The first organization featured is I-Place.

The Forum: What has been your best experience working with students at the 7Cs?

  1. Jessica Alampay, Director of I-Place          

Rather than pinpointing one specific instance, Jessica Alampay says that she has really enjoyed helping international students through different issues.

“When I’m able to lend an ear to students and to feel like they really trust my opinion and trust my experience; when students trust me enough to speak with me and then give me the chance to draw on my own personal experience and my time in student affairs.”

From helping students choose between two job opportunities or expressing anxiety about finding a job after graduation, to troubles with their roommate, or issues their romantic partner, Jessica also finds it helpful to draw on her own college experiences.

“Having had my own ups and downs, I think I really enjoy being able to connect with students and to develop relationships and friendships with them. I especially enjoy helping them see perspectives they wouldn’t have seen on their own.”

  1. Jenna Bustamante, Program Coordinator

    Every fall and spring break, I-place takes internationals students on trips across the U.S. Jenna’s favorite experience is from one such trip.

    “We took them to Arizona, to the Grand Canyon, Sedona, and Flagstaff. This was probably one of my favorite experiences because I got to just spend time with students in a different situation and a different environment. It was great to bring in the outdoors with people, going hiking.”

    Going on a jeep ride through the hills of Sedona, Jenna became good friends with a couple of the graduate student-workers who accompanied her on the trip.

    “We already got along pretty well in the office, but hanging out with them in a different setting, especially when we’re pretty close in age, was great. Even after I left the colleges to originally go to grad school, we stayed in touch. They even came to my wedding. It was great to see the students happy and enjoy life, and to be able to be a part of that was one of my top experiences.”

  2. Susan Kerns, Administrative Assistant

Sue is one of the friendliest faces you’ll see on campus. Always there with health advice, she recalls one incident from her first year at the Claremont Colleges.

“My first year working at International Place, there was a new first-year student who was having a hard time socializing. She came to I-Place every day, and sat at the computer right in front of my desk. We became very close friends and I slowly introduced her to groups that she might be into and people she may like.”

Sue says this student was able to form a small group of very good friends by the end of the school year.

“She continued to come to visit me but it was more like once a week, rather than every day. We still remain in contact today, now that she has graduated and is out in the world.”

Sue notes that this experience was very positive for her as well.

“I had the opportunity to get to know someone very close and also got to know all the people that I introduced her too. The two of us helped each other adjust in our first years. She certainly helped me in my new role and increased my love for being here.”

  1. Chrystal Orozco, Assistant Director

Chrystal loves seeing where students are post-graduation. The idea of all her students going out in the real world and doing completely different, interesting things makes her very happy.  

“One of the perks of working at the International Students’ office is having friends across the world,” she says. One of her favorite experiences was meeting with a former language resident in Milan.

“I was in Milan for a few days and we went out for an aperitivo.” Catching up over a drink on the canals, and later feasting at an open-buffet, Chrystal has fond memories of her stay and says the experience was “a lot of fun.”