FISH Northampton was started in 2006 by Andrea Duncan, a former employee of the University of Northampton. She sought to offer friendship and hospitality to the large numbers of international students arriving to study at The University of Northampton every year.
Today, FISH is still growing and thriving in the original vision and goal. Monday nights we have our Global Café where we play games, learn new things, hear from guest speakers and get to know one another. Monday lunchtimes we partner with the Multi-Faith Centre on campus to provide a free lunch. There are also ‘Host Families’ that open their home to the students for meals, allowing a safe place to develop their English skills and learn about the culture. Alongside these we have events and trips together.
These things build community and provide connection with others.
Coming out of a season when we have been deprived of connection there is a huge need for it, on top of the need for connection which comes as a student, and international student, away from the supporting aspects of tradition, culture and language.
Life is challenging when you are a busy student, trying to earn money to pay for your studies, and you are in a culture different from your own. Those around you might not understand what you are saying, your humor or you might dress differently. Let’s not get started on the weather and food! It can be hard and bring in a huge amount of cultural stress.
Cultural stress can lead to,
● Feelings of anxiety, confusion, disorientation, uncertainty, insecurity, and helplessness
● Fatigue, tiredness, lack of motivation, lethargy, lack of joy
● Illness (stress suppresses the immune system), concern about germs, fear of what might be in the food
● Disappointment, lack of fulfillment, discouragement, feeling hurt, feeling inadequate, feeling "out of it"
● Anger, irritability, contempt for the host culture, resentment (perhaps toward God), feelings of superiority or inferiority
● Rejection of the host culture, the organization board, even of God (or their own religion).
● Homesickness (1)
FISH is still here for so many reasons, but above all we are here to support. To bring fun and community. To hopefully allow a space for each to connect with those who understand the process of being an international student. Always meeting others in the same situation, but sometimes with the added bonus of meeting others from the same country as you!
A student of UoN recently explained her experience:
‘The international experience is a feeling like no other. A constant connect and disconnect. A constant (feeling of) fun and fear. A constant living and learning. A constant belonging and longing. A constant comfort and discomfort. But all these constants make you exceptional. This discomfort becomes your comfort. You are on your own, weaker and stronger than ever.’ – Himani, student of UoN 2021
Since we started FISH back up at the start of this term, we have been able to connect with over 35 international students at the University of Northampton. We have cooked and eaten together, gone apple picking, and had our weekly Global Café. Students are also meeting up outside of FISH events, eating meals together and messaging often, and FISH is glad to be part of those extended connections.
We do thank you for your support of FISH and your help in allowing connection. If you would like to sign up to volunteer to be a part of the activities, or you would like to donate, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.