When Maulin Joshi walks into the Student Center he always looks up at the Hall of Flags, the spectacular, colorful tapestry of the many countries representing present and past Caldwell international students.
As director of international student services, Joshi is proud of the hall—a place where students coming from different nations can see that the campus community welcomes them. “My hope is that someday we will have a flag from every country hanging there,” he said.
Whenever a student arrives and his or her country is not represented, Joshi plans a flag raising ceremony. The program often features an educational presentation, the playing of the country’s national anthem, a talk by the student about his or her homeland, and the official raising of the flag with President Nancy Blattner. “I’m excited about these ceremonies. They get better and better every year. It shows the campus who these students really are,” said Joshi. Last fall the Bangladesh and Hong Kong flags were raised; five female students from Bangladesh performed a cultural dance, and Gourmet Dining provided foods from those nations.
Before each semester Joshi and his colleagues conduct an orientation for incoming international students. At this past fall’s orientation the university welcomed the largest number of new international students in Caldwell’s history. “Once orientation was over, I kind of had this sense of amazement … so diverse a population, and I was just in awe of who they are and how they would be able to contribute to Caldwell University’s mission and vision.”
Joshi’s work in guiding international students starts before orientation. Working alongside the admissions team, including Jan Marco Jiras, director of undergraduate admissions and an international recruiter, he makes sure that the students’ inquiries are answered and that they are led through all the required steps to gain their student non-immigrant status, which includes adhering to immigration laws and dealing with compliance issues. Once students arrive on campus, they are oriented to all the services Caldwell provides including cultural and social adjustments and academic, tutoring, residential, and health and wellness supports.
Joshi advises the International Student Organization, which hosts activities like the Hindu spring festival Holi, which according to the Student Government Association is “one of the most popular events on campus year after year,” the international Thanksgiving dinner, and Tihar, the Festival of Lights, “celebrated by our Nepalese population.”
Trips and activities are planned throughout the year. Students have volunteered at the Community Food Bank of New Jersey and taken excursions to the United Nations, Washington, D.C., and more. “That sense of closeness was evident when tragedy hit Nepal in April of 2015 following a 7.8-magnitude earthquake. Rather than feeling powerless because they were so far away from their loved ones at home, 33 Nepalese students and alumni went to work fundraising for their Caldwell University Prays for Nepal project, raising over $16,000 for humanitarian efforts. “The campus and local community showed tremendous support to the Nepalese students in that time of tragedy,” said Joshi.
Many international students have taken leadership positions at Caldwell, holding offices in student government and affecting positive change, something Joshi credits to “their upbringing, their parents, their competitiveness” and often, strong academic credentials. “It is amazing what they can bring to the classroom setting and in promoting diversity on campus.”
The majority of international students are on scholarship for their outstanding academic or athletic achievement, and they take their education very seriously. “They have researched Caldwell in advance and know that our wonderful faculty and staff are here to support our students.”
Joshi encourages international students to assimilate and to see themselves as Caldwell University students, to learn about the Catholic Dominican mission and vision, to take part in community service or to travel to Fanjeux, France, with students from other Dominican universities to walk in the footsteps of St. Dominic.
Joshi was inspired to work with international students after he finished a master’s in education and was working on his MBA. He became an international advisor and immediately felt a connection to the students and “an appreciation of who they are and their upbringings.” He became the principal designated school official assigned to track matters related to international student immigration. When he started at Caldwell, he was thrilled to have more doors open for him and be able to help international students adjust to the United States and have positive experiences on campus. “I just appreciate who they are and I’m happy to help them in their journeys in improving their lives.”
THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT MAULIN JOSHI
Joshi brings his own global perspective to the job. He was born in India and is from the city of Gujarat. He came to the United States when he was five years old and was raised in Queens. “I’m a New Yorker. I love living in New York and working in New Jersey.” He speaks fluent Gujarati with his mother and English with his father.
“I’ve been lucky to travel to many places all over the world.” He has been to all the major countries in Europe, to India, South America, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
After receiving a bachelor of science degree in psychology from Binghamton University, he taught biology to high-need students in the Bronx and coached basketball.
He loves staying active, often taking his road bike to Central Park. And he enjoys watching sports. “I’m a Giants fan and a Yankees fan. Sorry, I know my boss (Sister Kathleen Tuite, vice president of student life) is a Mets fan. I try to show her some support every now and then, rooting for her.”