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International students reflect on travel ban

by Jordan Soldaczewski - THE STYLUS

Students, like Jean-Christian Mbappe, feel the threat of travel

Tue, Feb 14th 2017 11:00 pm
Emma Misiaszek/PHOTO EDITOR
Students' reactions: With the recent travel ban controversy, international students at The College at Brockport, like Jean-Christian Mbappe (pictured above), are worried about their lives in America.
Emma Misiaszek/PHOTO EDITOR Students' reactions: With the recent travel ban controversy, international students at The College at Brockport, like Jean-Christian Mbappe (pictured above), are worried about their lives in America.
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Six years ago, when Aleta Anthony began working for the office of International Education, the number of international students was only in the low double digits. The numbers have since increased by 400 percent, according to Anthony. With 122 international students currently attending The College at Brockport, Anthony believes the college has grown richer due to its increase in diversity.

"The whole goal as part of the mission of the university is to have a more internationalized and globalized campus," Anthony said. "So we want our international students to have a rich experience but at the same time, we want our domestic students to be having that interaction and learning from people from all over the world."

As the Interim Director of International Student Services and Recruitment, Anthony has received lots of questions when President Donald Trump made the executive order banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. While Brockport does not have any students or faculty from the seven countries, 320 students in SUNY were affected according to the article, "SUNY says 320 students from banned countries: urges no travel" from TimesUnion.com. While the order is no longer in place, people are questioning what could happen next.

International Program Advisor Dylan George said as he was traveling, people abroad were curious about American opinions regarding what is going to happen next.

"Last semester when I was on the road I definitely got a lot of questions just if students were even going to be allowed to come, if it's safe," George said. "A lot of the students and parents are concerned if it's safe to be here as a student on campus and a lot of students are concerned about obtaining their visas for the U.S. as well."

While George received this type of feedback abroad, Anthony received other feedback from our current international students on campus.

"I've had students from Muslim [majority] countries not on the 'travel-ban' but they are nervous to travel," Anthony said. "They don't want to travel because they feel even if their documents are all fine they won't be able to re-enter the country and continue with their studies. So some of them are planning to stay through the breaks, not return home for summer vacation to visit their families, so that hurts my heart to hear that."

Anthony said some students may even transfer schools because they do not want to be hindered in their studies by worrying about whether or not they will be deported. Regardless, Anthony still feels that the U.S. is a desirable place to study.

"It's still a desire destination," Anthony said. "Students and counselors and family know that as a whole the American people are very welcoming and the system is very good for education, but the process of getting here, we're going to have to see if the policy change affects our numbers."

Students on campus have shown support for the international education program and many have expressed outrage for the order to get removed.

As time went on, the media proved that  community voices have an impact on our congresspeople and judges, as Justice James Robart blocked the ban nationwide just seven days after it was set in motion by Trump, according to the article, "Timeline: How President Trump's travel ban unraveled" from CNN.

The people of the U.S. will always fight for what they believe in, as that is a profound principle of what  America is based on; George argues this is what makes America such a great place.

"There are different beliefs and opinions and ideas here but that's what makes America an amazing place and I hope that international students do still feel comfortable because they make this place such an amazing country to live in and an amazing place for me to work," George said.

International students Ouail Kitouni and Jean-Christian Mbappe agree with George, as they feel Brockport is a welcoming campus.

Kitouni, from Algeria, chose to study in America because he said that it has always seemed to be a promise-land of opportunity to achieve his dreams. However, once he got here, his opinion began to change.

"I didn't think that huge of a number of people shared the same opinion as Donald Trump, but they do, which is pretty sad to me," Kitouni said. "The people who are supporting Trump don't seem to realize it's not only Democrats hating on Trump. It's the whole world that thinks Donald Trump is a joke."

Although Kitouni was not affected by the executive order, he has been on his guard about being an international student here.

"It's not really a great feeling to think that you might be banned from entering the country at any point in time without any explanation," Kitouni said. "Always have backup plans, especially in this country, it just shows that anything can happen."

Mbappe is an international student from France and the executive order was set into motion during his first week in America.

"I tried to watch and read a lot of papers to be sure what it stood for, what different papers opinions were on it, and I think that it's pretty bad, pretty targeted ... xenophobic," Mbappe said. "That's not what the world needs right now we need to get together to fight this crisis, not point a finger at someone."

Mbappe's view of America began to change when he started college in Paris. He said the more he learned about it, the less he wanted to come. Hearing about the amount of shootings and the minority groups that face discrimination on a daily basis is, in Mbappe's words, "awful." He feels, especially from the current administration, that there are a lot of statements of hatred, and says "you don't know who could be the next target."

Kitouni and Mbappe both agree the world is keeping a close watch on America through the media and countries are concerned what their fate will be next. George agreed with them, in the sense that times are changing from how they used to be.

"Our past leaders really made this kind of a melting pot and they welcomed new ideas, and they welcomed people from all around the globe, and currently it's a little different ... it's an interesting time to consider yourself an American when you're traveling," George said. "I'm still very proud of it but it's hard to affiliate yourself with such a very outspoken current leadership in government and the people that support that are really standing out in the media globally."

International relations with countries may be affected by these kind of orders from Trump, but the relationship between Americans and international students seems to be prevailing on college campuses. Anthony treasures the dimension of global relationships as part of the college experience.

"We cherish and appreciate everything that our international students bring here and we value the exposure that they give to our domestic students as well," Anthony said. "I think it's a really important piece to the university experience."

@jsold19

jsold1@u.brockport.edu

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