INTO’s “American Survival” series teaches international students about “Dating and Sex in America”

INTO Marshall hosted “American Survival: Dating and Sex in America” Tuesday, answering student questions about consent, safe sex, slang and other related topics.

Health counselor for students with autism spectrum disorder Eszter Kiss and graduate assistant women’s center doctorate student Brittany Stalder  hosted the program. Kiss and Stalder encouraged participation from the students by creating an informal tone and offering to answer any questions students might have had.

At the beginning of the program, Kiss and Stalder passed around a handout that included terms and definitions such as “open relationship” and “casual dating.” The handout also addressed common American sex slang like “making-out,” “catfishing” and “Netflix and chill.”

Before the event, students were invited to anonymously ask questions by writing them down and submitting them in a box located in the INTO lobby. Kiss and Stalder said they were surprised at the number of questions they received in comparison to the “Dating in Sex in America” program they hosted last semester.

“We definitely got a lot more questions this time than last time,” Stalder said. “Last time, we got like five questions.”

During the event, Kiss and Stalder answered the questions asked by students. Many of the questions related to dating and sex etiquette, safe sex and different sexual acts. Kiss and Stalder particularly focused on consent and sexual assault.

“Sexual assault is any kind of unwanted sexual contact. That doesn’t necessarily mean just rape or sexual intercourse,” Stalder said. “Sexual assault is sort of a blanket term for any kind of unwanted contact in a sexual sense.”

Kiss and Stalder informed students about various locations where sexual assault can be reported, such as the Women’s Center, Counseling Center, Student Conduct, the police or a resident advisor.

“It’s your choice whether you want to talk about it or not,” Kiss said. “It’s not something you have to do, but if you talk to someone, they might be able to help you.”

According to INTO student Pimporn Wiwekwin, the “American Survival” series helps international students deal with the culture shock they may experience after coming to America.

“I think it’s very useful because it’s our first time to go outside our country,” Wiwekwin said. “It’s different from our cultures.”

Student engagement coordinator Kenneth Jones said that bridging the gap between cultures is the purpose of the series and that he tries to create workshops and programs to teach students valuable American life skills.

“I really take a step back and think ‘Would an international student automatically know this when they come to America the first time?’” Jones said.

Jared Casto can be contacted at [email protected].