(This article was written by an active member of our HCC community. This is the English version. The original Chinese version can be found in our July archive.)
On July 6th, ICE issued a visa policy for international students in online courses in the fall of 2020. It mentioned that the teaching mode of comprehensive online courses will affect the legal status of students, which surprised many students. After chatting with a few Chinese students in Minnesota, they felt that their hearts were burning with anxiety.
Since the beginning of 2020, there have been things happening in both China and the United States that have made foreign students feel caught off guard and mixed feelings. Therefore, I want to write my own story to encourage and comfort international students.
On the morning of May 8, 2020, the company immigration lawyer notified me by phone that my H1B visa lottery was unsuccessful. With only a year of opt, my feelings at that time was hard to describe: disappointment because the future could not be carried out as scheduled, the uncertainty about the future caused by this result, and the more sober sight of seeing myself as a wandering stranger in this country. The sense of loss came to my mind for a moment. I will not mention the latter thing for the time being. Sharing this experience is to say that I can understand and appreciate the feelings that many students are experiencing. (Maybe you are not very affected by this thing, let us be grateful for this peace together.)
That morning I opened the Bible app as usual and copied the daily scriptures. What jumped into my eyes was the Bible Isaiah 48:17 : "The Lord your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, says this:'I am the Lord your God, I teach you, you benefit, and I guide you on the way you should go." After reading this, although emotionally unstable at the time, I remember peace of mind. At that moment God let me know that no matter where he went in the future, He wanted to guide me in the path of my future life, so I could make a brave choice.
This experience made me realize that we have very limited control over many things in life. This year's pandemic and what happened later in the world have further proved this truth. No matter what happens next , God wants to give you peace in your life . If you feel anxious or upset at any time in the following days, you may wish to take a few minutes to read the following verses aloud:
Earlier this week I had the privilege of talking with a student from China. Leo came to Minnesota last year, and when I asked how he decided on this state he told me it was because of the American sitcom, How I Met Your Mother. I haven’t seen it, but apparently one of the characters is from Minnesota and that was enough to peak his interest.
Leo loves America; he says the culture is exotic. He’s adventurous and he wants to try everything. He even tried ice fishing which he says was the worst experience of his life. His Chinese friends tease him saying he’s more American than Chinese, and Leo is okay with that.
Leo reached out to me because he wants to live with an American family. He came to America to learn about American culture; he doesn’t want to spend his time here living with Chinese people—that’s what he’s done his whole life!
He wants to cook for an American family and share his culture, and he wants an American family to cook for him and share their culture. He wants to explore Minnesota and build meaningful relationships. He wants to look back on his time here and know he got the most out of it that he could!
There are so many international students just like Leo who come to Minnesota and never see the inside of an American’s home. They’re curious about our culture, and they want to make friends with Americans. They chose to come to America for a reason!
HCC has a long-term hosting program for students who want to truly dive into our culture and experience the American life. This program requires a three-month minimum commitment, but it often lasts longer as the family and the student become good friends. (The family receives a monthly stipend.)
HCC also offers short-term hosting (a couple days to a week), hosting for holidays like Thanksgiving and Easter, and a program called Friendship Match that pairs Americans and international students for the purpose of learning each other’s cultures and helping students feel welcome.
We have an amazing ministry opportunity right here in front of us. Chinese and other international students have come to us ready to learn more, all we need to do is open our front doors.
Name has been changed for safety reasons.