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Positive and negative discrimination toward international students on US campus

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Have you ever faced discrimination on campus? Source: Shutterstock

Having your international study experience tainted by discrimination is less than desirable and can be a source of great stress for students all over the world.

But should a fear of discrimination stop you from chasing your dreams of studying in the US?

Rocky Mountain Collegian spoke to three international students at Colorado State University about their experiences navigating both positive and negative discrimination on campus.

One freshman student, Babin Dinda, originally from India, told Rocky Mountain Collegian that despite the fact he was warned by friends he would face racial discrimination in the US, he’s never witnessed it or experienced it first-hand.

“When I first came here I had that nervous feeling because you don’t know if the international students are going to be separate from the domestic students. But it’s been almost a year now, and I don’t even really feel like I’m an international student anymore,” he said.

“I have heard stories, but I haven’t seen any of it,” Dinda said. “Over here [in the US] it’s totally chill and I like it.”

Sophomore Jewon Kim, however, claimed she had experienced discrimination, but not in a negative sense.

“Since my first language is not English, people try to help me,” she said. “I think it is positive in that way.”

While Kim does admit it can be tough to connect with American students sometimes due to “cultural differences”, she finds she is able to bond with her peers over music.

Originally from South Korea, Kim loves sharing K-pop songs with her classmates.

“If people are Asianized or they like our music, it is really easy to be friends with them because they are interested,” she explained.

Hello new fans of K-pop. Source: GIPHY.

However, it’s not all been great for Kim. Classes can sometimes be a struggle as she occasionally feels undermined, even if students aren’t vocalising their prejudice.

“I don’t think I can be a leader here because my first language isn’t English and I’m not from America,” Kim said.

“Nobody has said anything directly to me, but during group projects and similar things, people will give me the small tasks even when I know what I am doing.”

Hassan Al-Zerjawi, from Iraq, however, has felt more significant discrimination since he has been in the US.

On one occasion, as Al-Zerjawi was passing a Trump rally on campus, and as a Republican despite being against Trump, he stopped to listen.

“Some guy came up to me and asked: ‘Hey do you support the Republican party?’” Al-Zerjawi said. “Then he asked me where I was from. When I said Iraq, he told me to get the hell out of the country.”

On the whole, though, Al-Zerjawi claimed he has experienced very few instances of this nature and his time in the US has largely been positive.

“I have asked people in class if they see me differently, but they say I just look like the average American. Maybe they treat me differently because we’re in class and we have to respect each other.”

While discrimination – especially toward those from the Middle East – is a prevalent problem in the US, it seems, to Al-Zerjawi at least, like a problem which is not culturally collective but the result of a few intolerant individuals.

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