More Hidden Figures: International Students
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More Hidden Figures: International Students

A reflection from an international student in the United States.

More Hidden Figures: International Students
20th Century Fox

This weekend, I finally watched Hidden Figures, and I could not be more satisfied with the film. The movie tells the previously untold story of Katherine G Johnson (Taraji P Henson), Dorothy Vaugham (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), three of the most intelligent female African-Americans that NASA has had. Three women, that in times of segregation, misogyny, and tension, could break every boundary that appeared in their way.

The movie itself is inspiring, has a social theme, a great cast, and a deep meaning. But besides all that the great things about the movie, I could not stop reflecting about how I feel sometimes in this country. And with the permission of the African American community (and I understand we are not even close to what they suffered, and suffer right now) I felt that if they were able to achieve all the things they achieved during the Civil Rights Movement, why wouldn’t I be able to too?

Being an international student in this country is hard. First, we usually pay three times more what a normal student from this country pays, and usually the currency exchange rate is not in our favor. Second, if you live in the south, like I do, you must have a car if you don’t want to stay all the time at your university. But getting a car is almost impossible after you pay your tuition, no way you can ask for the money to buy one. Third, we can only work on campus, but getting a job here is hard.

All the jobs that don't require you to qualify for 1502 or 1501, are taken. We are usually the last ones on the list, so good luck getting a call back after the interview. So, making an income is another hard task. I understand all the reasons; we have never paid taxes before and we are not supposed to stay here after we graduate, so supposedly we are only getting the benefits of an education of quality. Fourth, we are not allowed to apply of half of the scholarships, internships, or other benefits that a normal student has.

Finally, all the problems with having a different accent, sometimes having to translate homework to your own language to catch the meaning, not being familiar with anybody, not having your family all the time for you, and getting used to a unfamiliar culture are just some of the difficulties that we must face. It can get frustrating, and you have to remind yourself constantly why you are you here and convince yourself not to stop fighting.

Sometimes, I like to imagine that in the future students like me are going to be treated just like another student here. But, I guess that is part of the path that we have to walk. Watching the movie, I could not stop thinking of how stupid and irrational the policies were before for the African American community.

It was painful seeing Katherine run to the bathroom carrying all the documents that she was supposed to check because in the building that she worked there was not a colored bathroom, for example. Or when Mary Jackson had to go to court to ask for permission to register for engineer classes, a thing that was only going to benefit everybody. I mean, how is it that someone needs to go to court to ask permission to get educated? A thing that only brings benefit to a society and raises their level of well-being.

I am going to be honest, it feels absurd sometimes thinking of all the stupid boundaries that we have, too. Not as hard and painful as having your own bathroom because we are ‘equal but different,’ but somehow very similar. After all, we bring a lot to the states. When universities have a high international population, their status goes up.

We help to raise tolerance and respect on every campus by making the college population more diverse. We bring new ideas and usually are the ones interested in research. We understand the sacrifice of being a student here, and that makes us work harder for our classes which makes the GPA average to go up. And, of course, again, the economic benefit of having us as students, we pay three times more than everybody else.

So, I am not going to stop fighting for my dreams here. After all, we are all humans and these policies are just barriers that we must cross. Also, there is a lot that we can learn from the African American story, that is why ‘Black Lives Matter’ because now it is the time for them to tell their stories of success and glory.

I am happy that we are hearing more stories like these, that help us understand that it is not impossible to dream. I could not feel more inspired after watching that movie, and I think it has been reflected in how good I felt this week. I encourage every community to raise its voice and start telling us what is the thing that makes them human. Because, after all, that is what we all are: humans trying our best to make this word more equal and fair.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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