For decades, Barnard has attracted diverse students from all corners of the world. There was Herawati Diah ’41, the first Indonesian student to graduate from a U.S. college, who went on to serve as the minister of information in Indonesia, and Bhinda Malla Shah ’56, the first Nepalese woman to attend college in the U.S., who went on to become Nepal’s first woman ambassador. 
Fostering meaningful cultural exchange and global understanding is central to the College’s mission statement that “Barnard prepares its graduates to flourish in different cultural surroundings in an increasingly interconnected world.” For international and domestic students alike, the opportunity to study in New York City offers a learning environment like no other. To aid in their success, Access Barnard was launched in 2020 to support international, first-generation, or low-income students with a slew of resources — from peer mentoring to a laptop loan program — as they thrive on campus and in the City.
The international community on campus continues to grow, with 13% of the current student body identifying as international and representing 58 countries in total. The Class of 2026 — the College’s most diverse to date — will continue to expand this pool: They represent 36 countries, with approximately 10% who identify as international. 
Why travel halfway around the world to study at Barnard? Below, four students share why, along with their favorite New York City spots to eat their native cuisine and how they keep their culture alive thousands of miles away from home.

Diksha pictured wearing a pink shirt against a white background.

Diksha Aurobindo ’25

What's your major? Computer science.

Where are you from? India.

Why did you choose Barnard?

Barnard gives you the feeling of being at a small college, while at the same time giving you the experience of being a part of a bigger institution. It has a very tight-knit community. The support women give each other here is unimaginable. 

What NYC restaurant showcases Indian cuisine best?

I love to go to the dosa cart in Washington Square Park midday; it reminds me of home when family members are waiting at the counter to get their dosas and talking about their day. Anjappar is also one of my favorites. It has authentic South Indian food that is super spicy, just the way I like. 

How do you keep your culture alive in the United States?  

Inviting friends over during a festival that is close to [my] heart and celebrating with them by re-creating traditions from back home over meals fosters special bonds. Having South Asian clubs on campus also plays a big role in keeping our traditions alive. 

Tapiwa pictured in front of Milbank Hall wearing glasses, a white shirt, and a patterned sweater.

Tapiwa Gambura ’24

What's your major? English and anthropology double major. 

Where are you from? Zimbabwe. 

Why did you choose Barnard?

I chose Barnard because I wanted a feminist education in a city that brings what feels like the entire world together. I was excited by the legacy of Black and international students at Barnard who have always pushed against the unbalanced ways that power works in the world. I feel like the various departments I frequent here — Africana, English, and Anthropology — have definitely moved me to think about how to make the world a kinder and more loving place. I’m where I wanted to be, and that makes me happy. 

What NYC restaurant showcases Zimbabwean cuisine best?

New York has a wonderful food scene, and I have many go-to restaurants that have food from the continent. I love Massawa right near campus, which serves Ethiopian, and Teranga in East Harlem, which serves a fun fusion of West African flavors. I can always count on them for a good bissap, a juice drink made with hibiscus flowers. I haven’t found any restaurants serving Zimbabwean food, but I balance that out by gathering with other Zimbabwean students to make sadza nemuriwo [maize meal porridge, meat, and leafy vegetables].

How do you keep your culture alive in the United States?  

I’m learning that my culture will always be within me no matter where I go, so I don’t have to do much to keep it alive. Simply existing is a testament to that. That said, sometimes I’ll play Zimbabwean dancehall or Oliver Mtukudzi on full blast in the Quad. I’ll also reach out to the other Zimbabweans on campus, and we’ll play cards or simply talk. I love bumping into [them] in Milstein and having an entire conversation in Shona; it feels like home. I also enjoy being a part of the African Students Association over at Columbia because many students from across the continent get together and share their experiences. Between attending campus clubs, going to live African music concerts, and having meals with fellow Zimbabweans, I find it quite easy to keep my culture alive nearly 8,000 miles away! 

Aseel sitting in front of the Diana Center wearing black with a white patterned head scarf.

Aseel Sharawneh ’25

What's your major? Undeclared. 

Where are you from? Palestine.

Why did you choose Barnard?

I knew that [Barnard] provided a healthy environment for students to grow, not just academically but in all aspects of life. It provides great resources to prepare future women leaders who have a real influence in changing the world to be a better place. Barnard believes that unity and collaboration are the secrets to success, and I wanted to be part of that!

What NYC restaurant showcases Palestinian cuisine best?

Al-Badawi restaurant in Brooklyn. It is the best place to reconnect with my homeland’s food and culture. My favorite dish is the musakhan.

How do you keep your culture alive in the United States?  

By not being hesitant to show my identity everywhere. This means sharing the values I gained from growing up in Palestine and speaking up for my rights and my people. I also attend the cultural events managed by school clubs, such as Turath.

Morgan pictured against a white wall wearing a navy blue short sleeve shirt with tan birds on it.

Morgan Zee ’22

What's your major? Sociology and computer science double major. 
Where are you from? Hong Kong.

Why did you choose Barnard?

Beyond the incredible campus culture I had the chance to experience during my visit, Barnard truly offers the best of both worlds: a small liberal arts college with the resources of a large research university in the heart of New York City — something I knew I could only experience here!

What NYC restaurant showcases Hong Kong cuisine best?

I love The Tang, which is a Chinese noodle restaurant 15 minutes away from Barnard. I also love going downtown for hot pot, which is a meal I love to eat at home and is great for sharing! 

How do you keep your culture alive in the United States?  

As a member of the Hong Kong students club and a mentorship program for Asian youth, I’ve connected with members of the community that share a similar heritage. Food also reminds me of home; one memory is when I cooked hot pot for my suitemates for Lunar New Year!