The current political climate convinces us that there is a growing sense of nationalism and populism on the rise within the American nation. There is a sense of immigrants not feeling welcome in this foreign land, and sometimes the expression of their cultural difference is put to silence.
Texas State and San Marcos are not diverse enough–or better said–welcoming to immigrants. There is the sense that the only language allowed to be spoken is English and seldom is a foreign language heard on campus.
International students and students from different cultures need to be welcomed by Texas State and San Marcos. Higher education ought to provide the opportunity to listen to other cultures and peoples. Foreign people should be encouraged to speak their language on campus and in public places.
This is particularly relevant to Texas State due to the presence of a strong ethnic minority. 53 percent of students at Texas State are minorities. Texas State currently ranks 14th in the nation for total bachelor’s degrees awarded to Hispanic students.
Texas State needs to be more welcoming to immigrants by encouraging them to speak their foreign language outside of the classroom. There ought to be a desire to truly learn from our differences and immerse ourselves in the practices and the customs of another culture within academia.
International student organizations such as the African Student Organization (ASO), need to do a better job at bringing visibility to international students and their contributions to Texas State. The international student organizations should encourage students to participate in the academic, the cultural and the political lives of Texas State.
Diversity is a strength in our society, one that can help provide a different perspective on the challenges and the problems that we face. Placing guilt on immigrants for contemporary problems is not a viable solution. It is important that we allow immigrants to share in the American Dream and towards the formation of a more just and prosperous society, especially in academia.
Cultural expression and the expression of difference have to be key components of Texas State’s policy of inclusion. There needs to be more visibility granted to international students at Texas State whether that means cultural events, involving them in political life or simply encouraging them academically.
I personally have yet to meet someone from my country, Cameroon, at Texas State and I think it speaks to the fact that maybe the international students are not as active as they could be. International students need to feel that they can express their voices on campus and in San Marcos in their native language in order to feel welcome.
Immigrants can feel estranged in a foreign land, and learning a new language is an arduous process that can result in the difficulty of adapting to a new culture. This is known as culture shock. For this reason, immigrants need to be encouraged to express themselves in a language that is native to them or one that they are comfortable with.
A university is a place for learning, for social development and also for cultural openness. In the classroom, we value other cultures and are willing to learn from their social practices and historical perspectives, but in public, we do not. International student organizations have the important task of advocating the interests of international students and of contributing to a shared acceptance of their presence in the San Marcos community.
Texas State has to continue to promote a policy of inclusion, to advocate for the acceptance of diversity not only within San Marcos but also in the state of Texas. I advocate for greater inter-cultural gatherings in the city of San Marcos to foster greater acceptance. In contemporary politics, there remains a certain fear of immigrants, an attitude that blames the foreigner for the problems that America is experiencing. Such an attitude is not tolerable.
– Patrick Tchakounte is a biochemistry junior