International Students Face Extraordinary Challenges

Countries of origin for Mines international students; the darker the country, the more Mines students. Image courtesy of Undergraduate Admissions.

According to the “Mines by the Numbers” site, 10.4% of the student body were international students last year. With a combined enrollment of 6,522, that means that there were 679 international students. That means 679 people who have had to figure out how to deal with the pandemic while being hundreds, more often thousands, of miles from home. On top of that, they’ve had to face government plans to make them choose between quarantine and staying in the country. I contacted the Mines International Student Council (ISC) to hear directly from some of our fellow students how they were impacted by this unprecedented combination of current events.

Wan Jun Aida, ISC Secretary, detailed the effect on international student admissions and learning modes: “The pandemic has severely affected international students in the States, and the international community at Mines is not excluded, only 18 new international students came to Golden for the Fall semester instead of the usual 250 (appx.) new students anticipated every Fall. On top of that, about 30 percent of continuing students opted for remote learning from their home country. These numbers may change until mid-September.”

“The pandemic has definitely impacted all students worldwide, but the struggles of an international student differs from local students,” said Uzma Kamarul, ISC President. “From worrying about the cost of living to quarantine locations as well as visa insecurity, it has brought a lot of stress and anxiety to a lot of international students.” She went on to explain the compounded effect of the current political climate. “Piling on election-year stress and a global pandemic is definitely a high stress and high anxiety situation. We, international students, had our eyes glued to the news when ICE decided to turnover their policies from March. While it was a huge relief that the current policy allows international students to stay in the States while taking a fully online course load, it shows how volatile the situation is. Anything can change overnight and we are expected to be prepared for every scenario.”

“Despite the challenges posed by the COVID19 epidemic, the ISC will not stop connecting Mines international students with both local and international communities,” said ISC Treasurer Alwaleed Alqarni. “The ISC and the ISSS [International Students and Scholar Services] office have been working on ways to conduct safe and responsible events. Stay safe and always be proactive.” •

ISC Graduation Banquet 2018. Image courtesy of ISC.

Sophia Becker

Sophia Becker graduated in 2020 with her B.S. in Chemical Engineering and is currently a Master's student in the Engineering and Technology Management program.

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