June 9th, 2017
It’s been a while since I’ve written something for this blog and it’s not for a lack of material. I’ve been in a state of disbelief since November 8, 2016. I’ve watched how anti-immigrant, anti-globalization, anti-internationalization rhetoric from the new administration has affected the image of our institutions of higher education—the bastions of learning and innovations—in the eyes of the world. I am astounded as to how myopic, xenophobic, and short-sighted a large majority of my fellow Americans have become overnight. Most likely they have always been this way, and the November 8th elections have liberated them to boldly display and proclaim their hatred and phobia of the “other” for all to see and hear.
I’ve sat quietly on the sidelines, simmering in my own stew of angst and frustration, mentally drafting essays of my opinions but feeling a resistance in actually putting them on paper/screen for others to read. Until yesterday happened. Yesterday, for the first time ever in the ten years I’ve been on social media, I ventured out of my safe zone and posted a comment. It was a comment in response to another comment. And the commenter was commenting about a satiric video featuring Mexico’s Former President Vicente Fox. In the clip, Mr. Fox quips that instead of paying hundreds of millions of dollars to build a useless wall, the U.S. could pay for the university education of hundreds of thousands of students.
The comment that pushed me out of my self-imposed exile of interacting with the human species went something like this, and I’ll paraphrase it here:
“And how about those international students who are here in this country on a student visa, studying for free and then go back to to their countries and never pay back their tuition?”
I stared at this comment for less than 5 seconds and realized that I had to step in and bust the myth. The myth shared by many Americans who think international students studying in the U.S. are getting a free pass. These same people mistakenly believe that international students return to their home countries without ever paying tuition or repaying the institution for the free education they received. This is far from the truth!
Unfortunately, in this age of fake news and alternative facts, it’s next to impossible to present facts, backed by research and statistical analysis when trying to clarify misconceptions and incorrect assumptions. But, I took a chance and went ahead and posted this comment in response:
“Foreign students must prove financial solvency in order to get a student visa and be admitted into the U.S. to study. They pay a much higher tuition than domestic students or out of state students. The contribution of international students to U.S. economy is quite significant. They not only pay tuition to cover their education but also contribute to the local economy by being consumers of products, renting apartments, buying cars, shopping, eating at restaurants, etc. Many people benefit. Clearly many Americans have the wrong idea of international students. They are not a financial burden but a financial boon to the country’s economy. $32.8 billion to be exact.”
And, in case the commenter and others like him were interested in facts supported by research data, I also included the following link:
To my surprise, I received about 8 likes to my comment and no angry and nasty retorts. At least, none to date.
I guess the point to this blog is that we can’t afford to sit on the sidelines when we see incorrect information making the rounds or when assumptions are made that have no factual basis. It is our responsibility as citizens, fellow human beings, denizens of this planet to bust the myths and spread the facts. Whether we are heard or not. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that we spoke up and didn’t sit silently in the shadows. In the age of Super Heroes, we need to put on our cloaks, take a deep breath and assume our roles as Myth Busters!
The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.