For this week’s reading, there are two subjects I would like to discuss. While the professor suggests that we use outside sources, such as articles or journals, to supplement our perspectives, I don’t think we should overlook word of mouth as a source. Sure, it may not be as formal, but not everyone involved with the topic writes his or her ideas or experiences so they can be read by the public.
The first subject is international students. Students from other countries come here to study, and while they are in school they must remain full-time students, have limited work opportunities, and almost always pay way more than the average student. Some of the information I am about to convey comes directly from an interview I conducted with the DSO (designated school official) for international students at my college of employment. While it is easy to criticize the model for international study because of the strict limitations the students experience, the conversation I had with the DSO gradually veered to something more abstract. The international student office at my college is essentially just this one man (who primarily works in the Registrar’s Office); the total number of international students enrolled doesn’t even exceed one hundred, so the college hasn’t spent much time, energy, or resources into providing a permanent office. That being said, the DSO doesn’t have a strenuous responsibilities for these students, but he has been doing it for a long time and has worked extensively with the demographic. The thing that struck me most during our interview was his perspective on the attitude of international students, which I will discuss briefly in the next paragraph.
From the DSO’s point of view, international students have a lot of adversity to face, not including the restrictions listed above. There seems to be, according to the DSO, an inequality between native and international students that the former don’t realize, but of which the latter are quite aware. Over time, international students may experience a form of alienation; native students complain about financial aid and their jobs, while those from abroad pay an exorbitant amount of money for school and cannot work many hours. While this alienation may not cause them to fail academically, it could potentially create a feeling of disdain towards education, the institution, as well as the American people and country as a whole. This may be an extreme example, but it goes to show that internationalization isn’t always rainbows and lollipops.
Another subject I would like to quickly cover is that of scholar mobility. Again, my source for my developing opinion on this matter is word of mouth. My cousin’s friend is teaching in China for an indefinite amount of time, and so my cousin has decided to go visit her (come on Ben, take a deep breath, be happy for him, wash away the jealousy). After finding this all out, I asked him a bunch of questions about his friend and her experiences, since you know, we’re in an international higher education class. Apparently this is all my cousin could glean from his friend: the college at which she taught asked her to teach abroad, and who could say no to China? Yup, that was it. Based on this brief exchange, I found it all a little sketchy. Why did her college ask her to go? Do colleges ask their best or worst professors to teach abroad? How long do they expect her to be there? Who pays for her expenses? What kind of research opportunities does she have in a different country?
I can totally relate to her friend wanting to go to China. Many people would love to have an opportunity like that. The only traveling I do for my job is walking to the campus cafeteria during my lunch break. In any case, hearing a story like hers just makes me very curious, and this skepticism quickly takes over the envy I feel (not quickly enough though, I’m still pretty jealous).