Every day, international students at Goshen College face the challenge of navigating life amidst the tense
political climate caused by the upcoming presidential election. Making up 9% of the student population at
Goshen College, international students represent a wide variety of cultures as well as political ideologies.
Yet, not being able to vote and participate in the upcoming election has been something of a
disappointment for Nithya Abraham, a senior from Bangalore, India.
Before coming to the United States for college, Abraham was in the process of registering to vote in her
home country, but was delayed in order to receive her visa to attend school in the United States.
“I’m not really good at politics, but I would have loved to have had the chance to vote,” Abraham said.
Ebtihal Abdelaziz, a junior from Cairo, Egypt, had a similar thought, in terms of voting in the United
States for elections back home.
As an international student, Abdelaziz is eligible to vote in her home country’s election. With the proper
paperwork and documents, Abdelaziz noted that voting is made “easy and accessible” to international
students, with a polling place located at the U.S. [note AP] Embassy in Chicago.
Yujin Kim, a junior from Newberg, Oregon, is also eager to vote, yet in a different way.
With dual citizenship in the United States and South Korea, Kim noted: “I think I'm in an interesting
position because I'm from South Korea and I'm very rooted in the Korean culture, but also I'm a U.S.
citizen. So, because I was born in the United States and I grew up moving back and forth between the two
countries, I have this cross-cultural experience.”
Having said this, Kim recognized that many international students at Goshen College are not eligible to
participate in the U.S. election, yet their insight and perspective in terms of voting should be taken into
“Please vote, your vote matters,” Kim said. “While (international students) can’t participate in voting,
although they want to, we’re here because we want to continue our education… and contribute to
Hashem Ammari, a junior from Jordan, voiced a similar concern.
“When you vote, vote for somebody who is more prone to look at everybody as equal,” Ammari said.
“Maybe you would think that you are one person and that your vote is not going to matter. But if all the
people who thought that their votes aren’t gonna matter, if they all voted together, their votes are gonna
While many Goshen College students may be on the fence about voting, Abdelaziz recognized that this
could be connected to the political atmosphere at Goshen College.
From an outsider's perspective, Abdelaziz noted: “It’s really interesting, in general, to be in the middle of
watching people interact, (but) it’s also a little scary because people don’t really talk to each other,
especially (with) different points of view.”
While Abdelaziz described the sharp division between the Democratic and Republican parties, Abraham
offered a different perspective.
“I know a lot of Goshen College students that are super understanding (of differing political opinions and
ideas),” Abraham said. “So they’re like, ‘Oh that’s your view? Interesting. Let me tell you about my
view.’ There isn’t a fight or argument, which is awesome.”
Both agree that there is importance in being able to put aside political differences in order to start a
conversation with others — with a goal of learning.
“Sometimes I shy away from it because I feel like I don’t know much, but that’s the thing,” Abraham
said. “If you engage yourselves in conversation about things you don’t know, that's how you learn.”
Abraham added that, in politics, “learning never stops.” And we should continue being open to learning,
she said, “new things about yourself and about others around the world in order to grow as a person.”