Hey guys, it’s Leo. It’s been a while, but I’m finally back with another political blog. Today, we will discuss international students’ perspectives on American politics, an issue I gained interest in following the global youth’s recently increased political presence in international media.
If you’ve been following the news lately, you’ve probably noticed more political involvement on the part of international youth. It’s always been prevalent, like in 1968, with anti-war and anti-corruption movements, but right now it’s bigger than ever.
Just this past week, thousands of students in the U.K. and across Europe skipped school to push for action on climate change policy.
Earlier this month in India, thousands of young people flooded the streets of Delhi to demand good jobs and better education.
With political knowledge now spanning further than just within local political spheres, the international youth is also more educated in American politics than ever before. So, I recently decided to contact and interview three foreign students to get an idea of their attitudes toward American politics as international youth. Here are their profiles:
Student 1: Aastha
Aastha is 17 years old and lives in Dubai. She’s originally from India but has lived in Dubai for 13 years. Aastha believes living in Dubai offers her a unique global perspective and provides her with more American political knowledge than one may expect. She hopes to attend a university in the United States when the time comes.
Student 2: Jemima
Jemima, whose family lives in Hong Kong, has been studying at a British boarding school for the past six years. Jemima is half Chinese and half English-Scottish.
Student 3: Shyla
Shyla is a 17-year old New Zealander from Auckland. She’s a fan of martial arts, reading and playing piano, and spends more time discussing U.S. politics with her parents than with her friends at school.
Do people discuss American politics at all where you live? If applicable, what are their general or varying opinions?
Aastha: “We do, actually. American politics is kind of important to the rest of the world because it greatly impacts us all. In school, we discuss U.S. finances, trade and Indian relations. Generally, people believe the U.S. has almost too much power as a country when compared to developing nations like India. Personally, since I want to study in America, my family discusses American immigration laws and gun safety frequently because it’s pertinent to my future.”
Jemima: “American politics is a pretty big topic where I am, especially when Trump is mentioned. In my house, most are against him, and we even had a vote at my school on whether or not he should be allowed to enter our country.”
Shyla: “At school, the courses I take don’t really focus on politics or social issues, especially U.S. politics. Also, though my close friends and I do discuss American politics, the attitudes of many of my peers is that it’s all a joke and that it’s too far from us to matter. I get information by talking to my American friends and by reading CNN every morning. At home, we talk about U.S. politics a lot, so it’s definitely a big aspect of my home life.”
Pick an American social issue and take a stance on it. Why do you, as a foreign student, believe as you do?
Aastha: “In terms of immigration laws, I think it’s heartless and cruel to be detaining and deporting people who’ve established homes and a livelihood [in the U.S.]. There needs to be a fairer, more clear democratic process that allows people to immigrate to and become a part of the ‘Land of the Brave.’ The world tends to glorify America as the land of opportunity… I really wish it were easier for people to find safety and comfort there.”
Jemima: “As a foreign student, I’m against the proposed transgender military ban. I’m not aware of its economic impacts, but as far as social and cultural ones, I’m strongly against the discrimination and animosity it’s condoning.”
Shyla: “One of the worst issues America has had to face under Trump was the government shutdown. While people in America were suffering terribly, you may think that we were all merely watching from afar. But in fact, so many of us knew people personally who were impacted terribly by the government shut down.”
What are your opinions on U.S. President Donald Trump? Do you think the world has a favorable opinion of him? What is something he’s done that you approve/disapprove of?
Aastha: “I think he’s a bit of a [bad person]. Lots of his policies are baseless and illogical. I understand his ideology, to a certain extent, but I don’t think many of his ideas are pertinent and practical in a modern context… I think the transgender military ban is stupid, heartless, and ignorant. It’s scary to think that being willing to give your life to your country can be stopped because of someone’s personal identity.”
Jemima: “While I’m generally not a fan of Trump, I can accept that he’s benefited the American economy… Although, he’s weakening America and the rest of the world by pulling out of the Paris climate change agreement and limiting immigration into the U.S.”
Shyla: “Because I’m not thoroughly educated on U.S. politics, I wouldn’t be able to give a highly good answer, but I will say that the day Trump was elected president, I was lying in my bed thousands of miles away, but my heart still stopped in shock just like everyone else’s. I may not know a lot about what it takes to be a successful president, but I do know that a person with no proper political experience, a past involving sexual assault and a man who cares far too much about how rich and famous he is, is not a president and will never be one.”
If you could identify with an American political party, what would it be, and why?
Aastha: “I mean, I can’t really identify with any party wholly, but the Democratic Party seems to be the most relatable to [my beliefs] because I’m definitely more progressive-liberal.”
Jemima: “If I could identify with a party it would be the Democrats, because I don’t support gun ownership and I’m a fan of the liberal views held by Democrats.”
Shyla: “Democrats. That’s all.”
Any general thoughts about the state of U.S. politics?
Aastha: “Overall, American politics is weirdly over-dramatized. I feel like misreporting and misinformation has ruined the informativeness of so many people across the world, especially in America, and I wish people had more access to good information… I want to add that I really appreciate youth initiative and youth effort in the United States. I love that people are using their voices to make change. It’s refreshing.”
Jemima: “A general statement is that it’s messy — very messy.”
Shyla: “American politics is in a fragile state at the moment. We need to stop joking around.”
In summation, the views of international youth, considering those of Aastha, Jemima and Shyla and current events, are clear: Trump is perceived as a very mediocre president (in general) and equality is in ruins over divisiveness, making change necessary for American society.
Although outside perspectives, these global opinions are vital to our success as a nation. Just because someone doesn’t live in our society doesn’t mean their perspective holds any less value than that of one of our own. Keep that in mind!
Thanks to Aastha, Jemima and Shyla for their cooperation and willingness to answer my questions! You may hear from them in future blogs, so stay tuned!