University of Toledo reacts to the travel ban
Student lives change
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The University of Toledo is home to approximately 2,000 international students, accounting for 10% of the student body. According to Sammy Spann, assistant provost for international studies and programs, the national average is in 5-7%, meaning the University of Toledo is one of the more diverse college campuses.
Spann said there are about 75 faculty and students who are from the seven banned countries and described the atmosphere amongst international students as tense.
“This country was founded and built off immigrants,” Spann said. “This country is strong because of its diversity and though it is one of the most diverse countries in the world, it is, in my mind, one of the best countries in the world.”
American is land of freedoms. That is how Iranian PhD. student GV viewed the US when she decided to further her education abroad in 2011. GV had admissions from Italy, but ultimately decided that the US was the better option.
“I was really, really excited,” GV said. “Even when I was applying.”
GV said that she knew the US was not a “dreamland” and it wouldn’t always be easy, but she chose to look at it like an adventure. GV said she always received respect as a researcher and people were friendly.
During her studies in the US, GV has contributed six years of research; she has helped make advancements in science and technology, yet it suddenly feels like it isn’t appreciated or respected. GV said she finds the ban to be unethical and discriminatory.
GV’s parents coincidentally happened to be visiting her when the ban was announced. Later this month they are going back to Iran. Under the ban, GV said she is uncertain when she will see her family again, including her sister who she has not seen in six years.
“They don’t say anything because they don’t want to terrify me,” GV said. “They don’t want to take their support from me. They want me to finish my studies the best I can. They always say they are really proud of me. But I see that they are really sad.”
Since GV has a single entry student visa, if she leaves the US she would have to apply for another visa. Because of this, GV said she never took the risk of going back to Iran to visit family.
“When I was coming my mom was really, really sad,” GV said. “Back then it was risky, and I was taking the risk, but I was happy that my parents could still come visit me. I could not go back, but that’s fine because they could come here.”
In the event that the ban stands, GV will have to make tough decisions regarding her future.
“If it goes permanent, I’m not sure I am going to take the chance of living this far away from my family and never have the chance to go back and see them. It’s not worth that,” GV said.
GV intends to graduate next year. Before the ban was announced, GV said her plan was to get a job in the US. However, due to the ban, what once seemed like so many post-graduation options suddenly diminished.
“I was always thinking I was going to look for good jobs in my area. But right now it is very vague, I do not even know if I am allowed to do that. I was going to look for jobs all over in the US.”
Regarding work opportunities in Iran, GV said they are much more limited for women. Though GV said there are more options than there were six years ago, the opportunities are still very low.
Despite the tension and uncertainty of the ban, GV said she remains hopeful.
“That’s because I don’t feel like sitting somewhere and saying ‘oh, I’m sorry this happened.’ And just accept it,” GV said. “I am going to do whatever I can in my situation.”
GV described herself as an idealist who would love a “no borders” mentality. But in reality, she understands this is not possible. She said she has respect for everyone’s thoughts and knows they have reasons for them.
Even if Iran was excluded from the ban, GV said she would still fight for other people affected.
“I want peace and freedom for all humankind worldwide,” GV said.