Home Education Opinion: OU and Athens needs to reach out to international students

Opinion: OU and Athens needs to reach out to international students

6 min read

In the most recent count there are 1,860 international students (graduate and undergraduate) that attend Ohio University, 808 of which are Chinese. America has always been a destination for many people across the world looking for migrant work, immigration or temporary education. While the idea of full assimilation has always wrenched my stomach, the boundaries and lack of communication apparent with many of the foreign cultures living in America have also been a disappointment. It seems the boundaries were constructed on both sides, with the middle ground merely lost from sight.

It’s not just that people who have a different culture live in America, but that their whole culture, it’s institutions and systems, become implanted in this country. That description is far more appealing to me and sheds a light on some of the issues that surround the people who live here in Athens. Especially when it comes to minorities who are accepted in America but must remain silent in their home country.

For queer people living in China, CNN reports, “China’s LGBT community does not have to face down strident political opposition or right-wing religious uproar. For them, the biggest source of pressure comes from the family, brought on in part by China’s one-child policy. ‘You have only one child so you want your child to be as ‘normal’ as everybody else,’ says ***Xiaogang Wei, Executive Director of the Beijing Gender Health Education Institute.”

That causes a certain quietness concerning the topic in China, which culture has also been implanted here. So although American students can enjoy the relative acceptance Athens and Ohio University purports, LGBT international students are still very much aware of their own cultures presence. Not that there’s much you can or really should do about it, but it seems as though there is a lack of current resources for LGBT international students at OU. The LGBT Center’s website offers many resources for queer people to utilize but many that would relate to international students are often general and deal with American students studying abroad. At the same time, while I’m confident that the directors and personnel of the LGBT Center and Multicultural Center are fully capable of assisting these students personally, there doesn’t seem to be any concentrated campaign to reach out to this population.

In no way am I trying to undermine the LGBT Center; they offer a wonderful array of support and resources for any and all queer and non-queer people in the area. Nevertheless, it’s important to point out these certain holes because many people, through no fault of their own, are just not aware that they exist.

The LGBT Center is not the only campus organization that has not fully addressed the situation of queer international students. While there have been many protests on campus concerning  student debt, university misuse of funds, and a financially bloated administration such as with the recent Bat Rally, there is oftentimes a lack of international voices in the discourse. Even we, the media, have fallen short in allowing adequate support for international voices to be heard and joined into the discussion.

Even focusing on just international students who happen to be queer narrows the conversation. The general conversation has neglected many voices that I have tried to give some kind of a voice through some of my columns.

These problems are too complicated for any one person or organization to solve without an open dialogue and conversation that includes everyone who lives in this region. The events that occur in this region affect everyone. The first step is to create a more inclusive conversation that includes everyone in this area. Regardless of who they happen to be, they still have a voice that needs to be heard.

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