I presented my research yesterday at the Mobility and Politics working group at Carleton University in Ottawa. There was a great discussion about research methods and ethics with a very diverse audience. We had undergraduates from a variety of majors, MA students, and PhD students. One participant even Skyped in from Brazil (see the chair in the corner)!
The Mobility and Politics group is a joint research cluster led by Martin Geiger, Assistant Professor in Political Science. They have events scheduled throughout the year, and welcome students and scholars at all levels as well as migration practitioners. Thanks for the invitation, Martin!
The US press is starting to realize that many American universities are not doing a great job of integrating international students on their campuses. In the last few days, both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times have published articles about international students struggling with English and the norms of the US education system, sticking together in country-of-origin cliques, and generally making local students and residents feel uncomfortable. These, of course, are the same issues that come up when dealing with other types of migrants.
Universities often see international students in purely economic or transactional terms: you give us tuition dollars, and we give you a diploma. As a part of that transaction, you may come to live in our community for a few years. What that looks like and how we can make that experience work well for everyone is not particularly important to think about.
European governments thought the same way about guest workers from the Middle East during the postwar boom. They’d bring in bodies for a predetermined time, exchange marks and francs for labor, and send the bodies back. But those bodies weren’t robots. As the Swiss writer Max Frisch had said, they asked for workers but people came. Social beings with all of the complications that being social entails.
Other news: Just before I came to Ottawa, I advanced to the semi-finals of UCLA’s Grad Slam, a competition in which graduate students present their research for a general audience in three minutes or less. My speech, entitled “Rolling out the red carpet for the best and the brightest,” focused on why Canada has been so much more welcoming to international students than the US. Congratulations to all of the finalists!