International students should be treated better.

The University of Nebraska at Kearney has approximately 7,000 students under its wing. Most of us come from Nebraska as well as 49 out of the 50 states. But UNK is also home to students who had to travel a it further to attend. International students from over 40 different countries have chosen to say good bye to their families for a semester up to four years in order study in the middle of the U.S.

When they first arrive everything is, well, foreign. For those students who have visited places like New York or San Francisco still must adjust to culture shock and frankly seeing a lot of corn everywhere. Most of them don’t even know the people they came over with. Though their English is sometimes pretty rough, they are eager to learn and become friends with the American students.

But unfortunately, many of them aren’t given a good welcome. Some are harassed, many made fun of and excluded from activities and interactions with UNK students. This is unacceptable. The actions of some American students on campus contradict the stereotype that Nebraskans are nice and welcoming people.

In truth, it can be very awkward when getting to know someone who not only doesn’t speak English as a first language but comes from a country where everything from customs to pop culture are worlds apart. But it gives us a unique opportunity to not only make knew friends, but to have our eyes open wider than the Nebraska landscape.

It’s sometimes uncomfortable meeting new people, especially when you have no idea what you might have in common. However, there are ways to get to know international students without feeling awkward. One of these ways is through Conversation Tables. This event lets students meet and talk to the international students we have on campus for an hour.

Another way is through class. Become partners with an international student for a project or activity. You never know what could happen. What is known is that taking the step to get to know the international students on campus will not only help them learn American customs, but give you the opportunity to learn firsthand about places you’ve never been.

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3 thoughts on “International students should be treated better.

  1. I really like this post. You bring to the attention a problem that I nor probably a lot of other UNK students were unaware of. I think much of the time it gets assumed that once we reach college age and head off on our own, we feel that we have matured and aren’t the ones who exclude or like you say, harass the foreign exchange students. Hopefully by bringing this issue to light for much of the faculty and other students this won’t continue and we can help make these students feel at home in a place that is not there own.

  2. I completely agree. I’ve had numerous classes with International Students and I always try to make a point to listen to their ideas. If I was a student in their country, I’d hope to be treated the same way. They may not be accustomed to our lifestyles, but we should appreciate the diversity they bring to our campus. It isn’t easy leaving your home for, in some cases, four straight years. In one of my classes, I was partnered with a girl from China and I really enjoyed learning about her life. I think the conversations we can have, if we give them a chance, are eye-opening and educational.

  3. UNK has a growing international student population, and I think we as a school need to start giving a lot more thought at how to better meet their needs. This is a good topic for a local editorial. Where do you want to take this?

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