Like many of you this past week, I’m heartbroken, I’m angry, I’m exhausted. I’m amazed at my capacity to be shocked any longer, but I am.
But this is a newsletter about international education, so I’ll focus on that. Viewing Wednesday’s riots through that lens, well, it isn’t good.
In recent weeks, I’ve been talking with people about the future of international education
, about whether the damage done to America’s reputation overseas can be repaired. Could the transition to a new year, the swearing-in of a new administration help restore the standing of U.S. higher education as a — the
— sought-after destination?
Unfortunately, the assault on the Capitol could instead reinforce much of what concerns prospective students and their parents. An attack on the very heart of U.S. government underscores the ongoing political uncertainty. Images of tear gas, the shooting of a protestor, unexploded bombs planted around D.C., all support the narrative of America as unsafe. And a man with a Confederate flag roaming the Ohio Clock corridor — it paints an ugly picture for those worried about American racism and xenophobia.
Nonetheless, some of you told me that you were holding on to hope that the Biden administration could usher in a new era of openness. That you were committed to working even harder to communicate to international students: We want you here.
But I also heard from a number of students and parents: We’re not so sure.
What’s clear, I think, is that even if there is a new occupant in the White House, the fault lines remain. President Trump will leave office, but some Americans will still embrace his ethos of grievance, his us vs. them posture.
For international ed, President-elect Biden could mean new policies. Perceptions, though, may be slower to change.