International students have own take on U.S. election

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By Alex Barhorst
Entirely East Lansing staff writer

East Lansing’s international students express varied interest in the upcoming presidential election.

Some students said they have not missed a debate; others said they have not paid any attention to them.

“(The debates) were up on YouTube. I couldn’t resist,” said Bandamlak Jemberia, a student from Ethiopia. “They are fun to watch.”

Jemberia said he listened carefully to discussions about funding international student programs like the one that brought him to Michigan State University.

He said President Barack Obama has promoted an increase in grants for international students. He did not think Republican challenger Mitt Romney “knew what he was talking about” regarding study-abroad programs.

“I’ve never gotten to vote,” Jemberia said. “After watching the debates, I know who I would vote for.”

Chinese student Jiewen Huang also wants to see an increase in funding for international education programs.

He said it became difficult for Chinese students to enroll in U.S. schools after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Another important topic of debate for Huang was school tuition. He said tuition prices are particularly expensive for students from other nations.

“Both of the candidates want to pay more attention and invest more in schools,” said Huang. “I am in favor of that.”

Sankalp Sasde, an international student from India, said he has not paid attention to the presidential debates. He said he was not interested in them because he is unable to vote.

Sasde also supported the efforts of Obama to strengthen international education programs. He said Obama visited India in 2010 and announced a “united universities” plan.

Indian students had an easier time getting a visa to study in the U.S. after the plan was announced, according to Sasde.

He added that the results of this election will have an impact on his home country.

“If it’s going to be the same government, that will be on the positive side, but I don’t know about Romney,” said Sasde. “There will be some effect (on India) from this election for sure.”

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