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David Ly


AU DEGREE: MA U.S. Foreign Policy and National Security




Are you an international student with questions about the SIS student experience? E-mail David at to learn more!


Why did you chose to participate in the Global Networks Program as an International Student Mentor?

I chose to participate in the GNP program because I have always been interested in learning about new languages, cultures, and points of view. During my time at Middlebury College, I often reached out to new international and exchange students to help them to adjust to life in a new environment, and sometimes a new country. Due to the rural nature of Middlebury, I was worried that many of the new international students would feel isolated and lonely being far away from their family and friends. Because of this, I often invited them on trips in and out of state, and even to come stay with my family during long holiday breaks when the campus was closed. Sometimes I would also help them find ingredients to make a special dish that reminded them of home.


Many of my good friends from Middlbury were international students. Through the friendships that I have gained there, I have been able to largely expand my knowledge of the world and other cultures. My expanded worldview is largely the product of many fruitful and open-minded conversations with international students. As a result, I have developed a greater cultural sensitivity and a better understanding of hoe American actions are perceived abroad. These skills proved indispensable when I studied abroad in Tokyo, when I return to Japan to work as a coordinator of international relations in Miyazaki, and also during my work as a personal concierge in Hawaii. 

What is one memorable experience you have as a mentor or language conversation partner? 

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with my language conversation partner because through practicing language, we were also able to enjoy participating in outside activities, going out to restaurants, and even talking about politics. We learned a lot from one another in a short period and I felt the language exchange was definitely a success!

How do your cross cultural experiences allow you to assist international students?

I have previously worked and studied abroad before I was servicing international clientele as a personal concierge. I understand how difficult and uncertain it can be when going to a new place/country. I've also experienced the "honeymoon phase" dealing with surface culture, and then finally delving further down that iceberg into "deep culture." While being abroad is an extremely rewarding experience, it isn't always easy. I understand those challenges being the "one student from country A" in the room, being expected to represent the opinion of your entire home country. I'll be there for my mentees to help them through these challenges.