“The American public and universities are one of the most welcoming people I
have ever met. But the administrations and their policies put tons of red tapes,
hoops, and fences that we have to jump through just to be able to study;in the
U.S. it’s almost like they don’t want us here.”
International students in the U.S. often experience unspoken difficulties: language barrier, cultural shock, academic stress, anxiety, safety issues, discrimination and homesickness. Being a foreigner makes it difficult for them to get the help and resources they need. They also tend to conceal their suffering to avoid making their families worried. The Carnegie Institution for International Students (CISI) is launching the IS VOICE project. By interviewing international students, professors, organizations as well as those who care for international students, and asking their perspectives about this community, we call for greater attention to the international student community in the United States.
Why does it matter?
First, let’s see some data:
- In 2021-22 there are 763,760 international students enrolled in higher education in the U.S
- In 2021-22, international students contributed $33.8 billion to the U.S. economy
International students constitute a significant portion of the U.S. population and make invaluable contributions to the country’s economy. However, resources for mental health, job seeking, community service, and other critical needs are often limited. Furthermore, international students are often subject to stereotypes and negative perceptions. We want to shed light on the realities they face, tell their stories, and let society see them as they are – unique, brilliant and talented individuals who add to the nation’s diversity and vitality.
With the alarming rise in anti-Asian hate, we feel there is a pressing need for us to promote cultural understanding, combat stereotypes, and create inclusive environments for international students to pursue their dreams as well as thrive academically, emotionally, and socially as a community.
What kind of challenges do international students face?
Based on our research and interviews, many international students often face:
Mental Health Issues
International students often face unique mental health challenges as they navigate unfamiliar environments and adapt to new cultures. Being away from their support networks and familiar surroundings can lead to feelings of isolation and homesickness. However, accessing appropriate mental health resources is challenging for them due to limited awareness and availability.
The deteriorating campus safety situation has greatly affected the international students, causing a negative impact on their academics and lives. On February 13, 2023, a mass shooting occurred on the campus of Michigan State University, leaving Yukai “John” Hao, a Chinese student, seriously injured. We stand firmly against all kinds of violence and call for greater safety measures on campus.
Racism and Discrimination
International students, particularly those of Asian descent, have made headlines due to the racism and discrimination they face in various countries. The situation has deteriorated with COVID-19 as more students are being targeted in hate crimes, verbal assaults, and even physical attacks.
Academic honesty poses a significant challenge for international students. Cultural differences, language barriers, and academic pressures all contribute to this issue. Navigating unfamiliar academic conventions and expectations can result in unintentional breaches of integrity, such as plagiarism or improper citation, which may lead to being expelled.
International students face various challenges when seeking employment for different reasons, such as language barrier, lack of experience, etc. Recently, they are having an extremely difficult time finding employers that sponsor H-1B visas. Many of them are forced to halt their plans and return home.
Immigration and Visa
International students need to understand and comply with U.S. visa and immigration regulations, including visa extensions, conversions, and employment regulations. If they violate the immigration law, they may face being deported or not able to re-enter the United States.
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