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Interview with an International Student Living in Trump’s America

In light of President Donald Trump’s election and the many changes that have come with it, large groups of people living in America have had to make drastic alterations to their own lives. At Tulane University, there is a number of students who chose to come here from many different areas of the world. For them, what was supposed to be a new start with exciting opportunities quickly became world full of fear and anxiety. To get an inside look on how the lives of these people have been affected by the new state of our nation, I interviewed my friend Pratiksha “Pratz” Parulekar, a Tulane student orignially from Mumbai, India. Many, including myself, would describe Pratz as a unique, funny, and kind soul who would always go out of her way to help a friend. However, President Trump has painted Pratz and other minorities in a very negative light. He has threatened to put her safety and well-being, as well as the safety and well-being of many others, at risk, which has put a significant strain on her day-to-day life. In this interview, Pratz discusses some of the effects that Trump’s presidency has had on herself, her family, and her community.

Q: How has the election of President Donald Trump changed your life? Do people treat you differently? If so, in what ways?

A: While life has not changed much for me on this campus, I feel much more scared stepping outside. Hearing reports about “immigrants” getting shot and getting told to “get out of the country” made me terrified walk alone even to the nearby Starbucks. Getting emails from the Office of International students telling me not to leave the country and go home in the near future just as all my friends were boarding flights home further proved that life had changed.

Q: Do you regret your decision to come to the United States for school?

A: I came to study in the United States to make a better future for myself, so it was kind of disheartening to learn that more than half of the country might not want me here. The recent laws and the proposed reforms have definitely made me question my decision to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of my parents’ hard-earned money on an education when it might be next to impossible for me to get a job very soon.

Q: How has Tulane handled your situation and are you satisfied with these measures?

A: While I have not been directly affected by the immigration ban as of yet, multiple Tulane students have. I know that Tulane sent out emails for everyone to stay in the country and avoid international travel as of now, and has an immigration lawyer on call if anyone should need one. Right now, I think Tulane is certainly willing to provide any kind of support to keep their students from getting deported. On the other hand, there could definitely be more awareness raised about the dire situation this presidency has placed so many of us in.

Q: How does your family feel about your current situation?

A: My family is basically pooling their entire savings to give me this education, and so are the families of so many international students here. While they are certainly encouraging of my passions, they are terrified of me being alone in a country where everywhere I go, they can never be sure if people might literally kill me because of my gender, the color of my skin or my nationality.

Q: What do you think our generation can do to better the lives of international students and minority students in the US?

A: This election just showed that our generation has no real power yet, except being compassionate. But compassion and sensitivity can go a long way in this climate. Just assuring your minority/international friends that you’re there for them, that they always have a friend in you in case anything happens will probably help more than you can tell. If any of your family members or friends back home voted for Trump, maybe let them know that how their votes led to your friends feeling unsafe and unsure about their lives here, even if that was not their intention.

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