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For A Day, At Least, These International Students Are Students Of U.S. Politics

Renee Delatizky discusses the U.S. election with her class of international students at Boston University. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Renee Delatizky discusses the U.S. election with her class of international students at Boston University. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
This article is more than 6 years old.

In a carpeted classroom on the second floor of a Boston University building, a dozen or so students are watching TV.

It's part of their classwork. They're international students, like more than 40,000 others who come to Boston to study each year, and they're in this class to learn about American English, American culture — and, today, American politics.

After a few minutes, teacher Renée Delatizky clicks the remote, and Matt Lauer's "Today Show" recap of the presidential election goes silent. Delatizky — who herself was born in South Africa and came to this country more than four decades ago — turns to her class.

They talk briefly about the idioms Lauer uses to describe President-elect Donald Trump's surprising win: "pulls off ... the biggest upset."

But for most of today, they'll be going deeper than the language. They'll talk about what they saw as they watched the election returns, and what it looks like to someone who did not grow up in this country.

"So," Delatizky begins. "Did you watch? You watched, yeah, OK. So, what did you think?"

Omar Alkandari, a soft-spoken student from Kuwait, answers.

"I don’t really, like, follow politics," Alkandari says, "but just hearing what he says, I’m just like, 'How is this guy going to become president?' And now it happened."

Alkandari is worried.

"The changes, and the things he said he was going to do — I’m not sure he’s going to do them," he says. "But if he does, there will be, like, a lot of trouble for many people in this country and around the world."

Another Middle Eastern student worries about the president-elect's attitude toward Muslims like her.

Maab is from Saudi Arabia. We're only using her first name because Saudi-sponsored students are forbidden to engage in politics while they're here.

"What [Trump said] about Muslims or even Mexicans actually was awful," Maab says. "It was unexpected from a man who has the power."

But another Saudi student, Ahmed, says he likes Trump because he's not a typical politician.

"Trump is different," Ahmed says. "He might have a vision of the country."

Ahmed likes Trump's business background, he says. So does Carrie Mei, who's from China. She thinks it will help him create jobs.

"I know that some people who are blue collar chose him because they need the opportunity for work," Mei says. "And Trump’s policy for that will help them."

Others see different reasons for hope.

"When I heard his speech after he won, he was very good in speaking. His speech was very different from all the bad speech," says Nora, another Saudi student. "Because he said I give you the hand to, like, stay one country, and we didn’t hear Trump like that before. So that’s why I hope that he will change, and all the things that he promised that were so bad for people, he’s not going to do."

Her classmates nod. And her teacher turns back to the screen.

This segment aired on November 9, 2016.

Louise Kennedy Contributor
Louise Kennedy previously worked with The ARTery and as editor of Edify.



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