Carolina Khombe, an elderly social worker, jumped up and returned to her room on Election Day, which quickly became a late election night, constantly refreshing her food. With her eyes glued to her phone, she could not bring herself to relax and get some sleep.
As an international student from Malawi to Africa, Khombe had never before experienced a US presidential election. She would rather hear the winner announced after the vote count than watch the variable results directly.
I’m seeing it red, then I see blue then it turns red and I’m like Okay, that ‘s not happening, said Khombe. I think seeing it live really affected me. I could not sleep on the first day of the election.
Khombe said she is looking forward to the term of President-elect Joe Bidens. She hopes he handles COVID-19 better, providing a new perspective than President Trump.
I was hoping things could get better, Khombe said. I have no family (in the United States) … if something happens to me, how long will it take for people to find out that something happened to me?
Khombe said he feels better about representing Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as a black in power.
Especially having Kamala as Vice President … I feel like for me, maybe things would be safer, said Khombe.
Ishitta Vasudevan, a young cognitive neuroscientist, also said Bidens’s choice makes her feel more welcome and confident. She is from India and said her friends who currently live there were following her just as much, if not more than her.
If an Indian election were to take place, I would not expect people in the US to post about it and follow it, but if it happens in the US, everyone at home is also really into it, Vasudevan said . My friends kept writing to me, (asking me) What is an electoral college? How does this work? … For most people my age it was like the first time they were experiencing it so closely.
Vasudevan said the Trump administration influenced its experience because there were too many bans on international students, immigration and visas. When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, some students did not think they would be allowed to study in the US
That was a blow to most international students because almost as if we were paying almost double the tuition within the state and leaving the country almost, through no fault of our own, which was very troubling for many students, Vasudevan said.
Second finance student Raymond Lawi said his life and that of many other international students were also affected.
We just weren’t really living the experience, Lawi said. We came to the United States to experience American culture, to make new friends, to go for walks. We were now somewhat isolated, just looking out of our rooms.
Lawi said he hopes Bidens morality can guide students through the pandemic.
I think, personally, we need a leader who obviously listens to science and does not minimize any form of pandemic because that way people will actually take it seriously, Lawi said. While I’m not so fond of Joe Biden … at least he listens to science. I think this plays a big role in the result.
Lawi also appreciates Bidens’s ideas about unity through diversity, and he hopes he can help repair the political divide he saw from the perspective of a foreigner living in Indonesia.
It seemed like the States were getting out of control, Lawi said. People fighting among themselves, it was just hard to see. Indeed, many fights are despite being under the same flag. All still American, but the way they talk about each other is kind of inhuman, so to speak. It just looked like absolute pandemonium.
Accounting and business senior Shawn Luo is excited about the new President for similar reasons. He is an international student from China and said the flood of xenophobia upset his family.
I feel like the behavior by the President could affect the whole dynamics of the country because (Trump is saying) as if it is all China’s fault, it is a Chinese virus, Luo said. “I know my parents, they really cared about my personal safety and my plans for the future.
Luo does not expect that dynamic to pass immediately, but he sees the country moving in a better direction in terms of equality and pandemic because of the newly elected President.
My community, international students, the LGBTQ community, the Asian community and so many others will get the environment they need to survive … and be treated equally, Luo said. This gave me hope that there will be changes and some of them will be really beneficial to my communities and my personal development in the future.
This article is part of our post-election issue. Read the full number here
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