International students are the same as us (local editorial rough draft)

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 or 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, they 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.

If you visited another country would you want to be met with open arms or scathing remarks? Whether a student is from the Netherlands, West Africa or South Korea, they deal with many of the same struggles as American students. Money, relationships, classes, homework, the want of acceptance. All of these issues are common ground between students. International and homegrown alike.


4 thoughts on “International students are the same as us (local editorial rough draft)

  1. I love this topic! I think you did a great job demonstrating that there is a need for something to be done, but offer one sentence about conversation tables and a paragraph about partnering with an international student in class. Consider adding more about conversation tables (and conversation partners). Some other possible solutions are for more Americans to take an interest in international culture by attending the events they put on like the different festivals and such. I also think intermurals offer international students an opportunity to interact with lots of other students while participating in fun activities.

    Overall it’s really good. I did conversation partners last year and I loved it. My friends and I drove my partner around Kearney to see the different houses and parks. We spent like 3 hours at Cabelas looking at the stuffed animals and guns, we even brought him home to see the farm and back again to go my wedding. It’s amazing what you can learn about other countries and cultures by taking the time to find out. It was so much fun to see their excitement as you make them feel at home and watch them experience some things for the first time.

  2. Outstanding. I was born in Kearney and grew up in a small town 20 minutes south of here and lived there my whole life. I really know how a lot of people treat and think about foreign individuals around this area and it is very sad. People wonder why other countries hate America, well why wouldn’t they? If they come to our country we are SET on making them learn our customs and languages. When instead we should be learning from them as they learn from us. I had the opportunity to house three German guys when the Minden, Germany choir came to my hometown of Minden to perform. I took them out on country roads and shot fireworks and guns, something they would NEVER have the chance to do in Germany. My only critique would be provide more information about Conversation Tables, I believe they’re held every week. But great editorial, I would very much like to see this in The Antelope.

  3. Well thought out piece. It seems that much of the negative attention is directed at Asian students. I’ve seen a fair amount of this showing up on social media around campus. How about some more information about the conversation tables? That gives people empowering information to do something. You might also mention upcoming international and ethnic festivals.

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