Straight from print: Getting a global perspective
International students at AU discuss their takes on the 2016 presidential election
This article originally appeared in The Eagle's print edition on Oct. 21.
The U.S. presidential race isn’t just being watched by students here in the U.S, but by people from around the globe as well.
This holds true for AU’s international students, several of whom opened up to The Eagle about their thoughts on the 2016 presidential election and its effect on their home countries.
The overwhelming consensus: this election is relevant around the world. All three of the students, regardless of whether they have been following the election closely or not, knew the candidates’ names and general policies, and the influence of the election on a global stage.
One of those students is Marnix Kleinjan, a 21-year-old studying abroad at AU this semester from Leiden University in the Netherlands. Kleinjan said one of the primary reasons he came to AU was his interest in the presidential election, and mentioned that there was large support at his home university for Bernie Sanders during the primary. That support has since shifted to Hillary Clinton, he said.
Despite that support, people in the Netherlands are still nervous about the outcome, Kleinjan said.
“You always hear the negative things candidates say in the Netherlands because it’s perceived as somewhat of a circus,” Kleinjan said. “[The impact] is quite a large concern for everyone in Europe. The American elections are always perceived as quite a phenomenon.”
Kleinjan said political opinions are also taken more personally at AU as compared to his own university, especially when it comes to this election. Political affiliations are moreso an accepted part of people’s identities in the Netherlands.
“At my home university, at least, your political opinion you can voice it in in class, and outside of class, you’re still treated like the same person,” Kleinjan said. “Here at American University, people take your political opinion very seriously. It’s taken a lot more personally here, it affects your relationships with people outside of class as well.”
AU is home to close to 1,600 international students according to the Office of Admissions, which means many international students are here for their entire undergraduate career. That includes Divya Sahni, a junior from New Delhi, India.
Sahni said she is worried that Trump could cut out parts of her F-1 visa, which is the documentation that allows her to study in the U.S. She’s specifically worried about the provision that allows her to stay here for one year after graduation.
“[Trump] is literally trying to eradicate the one thing that brings the United States together today and that is the fact that the United States respects and welcomes people from countries all over the world,” Sahni said. “He wants to kick out some of the biggest people that actually add to this economy out and that alarms me to a great extent. This election really only further proved to me all the reasons why I don’t want to stay in the United States.”
Ophelia Phu, a junior and four-year international student originally from Australia, said she supports a Hillary Clinton presidency, saying Clinton is the more qualified candidate.
“I'm highly perplexed as to how people even believe that Donald Trump is a suitable candidate when he's clearly not. In my opinion, he has no true political experience whatsoever and seems out of touch not only with minority populations, but also the majority. I think the people voting for him are quite deluded as well,” Phu said. “I'm Australian, so I see international trade and relations with the U.S. as the major factor here. A ripple effect may occur. I know that people in Australia, or at least my friends, they won’t be happy if Trump wins.”