By Moises R. Cotto
The aftermath of the presidential election has been a topic of daily discussion, almost as controversial as the year preceding the announcement of president-elect Donald Trump’s historic win. As all of America saw this past year, Trump’s controversial statements and ideals left many Americans, as well as international societies, alarmed by the repercussions that would arise if Trump’s plans came to fruition.
Worcester State University has students who have come into direct contact with some of these countries that are just as invested in American politics as we are. One of these students is Jack Cloutier, a 21-year-old senior and history major who studied in New Zealand this past year from February to June.
“New Zealand is not isolated from American politics,” said Cloutier, who got to explore the country of New Zealand while studying in the University of Otago. “A lot of locals I met brought up the election and asked if Trump was actually a real candidate. Trump was universally hated because of his racist and sexist behavior, and feared because he would be at the helm of America if elected.”
Concerns about Trump’s presidency also extend to more immediate allies of the United States, like the majority of European countries. While undergoing his own study abroad program in Athens, Greece, 22-year-old David Carroll had the opportunity to visit over nineteen countries, the majority of which were in Europe.
“I am the type of person who strikes up conversations with just about anyone,” said Carroll, a senior computer science and business finance major. “Having this quality and traveling as much as I do I’ve had a lot of conversations with foreigners, especially Greeks. What I found is that during the period preceding the election there was a common trend amongst conversations I had with people, what I called the ‘15-minute rule.’ I found that whoever I would have a conversation with that knew I was an American, within 15 minutes of the conversation, they would bring up the U.S. election, and most importantly, Donald Trump.”
Carroll was visiting Greece and Europe during the European Union debt crisis, several terrorist attacks, and the refugee crisis. Naturally, these political issues helped to inform his understanding of the anxiety that he sensed within Greek society.
“Greece is currently taking a majority of the refugee burden and acting as the main entryway to Europe, the destination for most all refugees,” said Carroll. “The idea that the U.S. may be yet another country that won’t support the refugee crisis and possibly agitate the threat of terrorism in Europe severely discourages the Greek people. They see the election of Trump as something that will further plummet their economy and decrease their overall quality of life at home.”
Cloutier and Carroll talked about their experiences as American students visiting foreign countries, but there are even more pertinent concerns for people who themselves are from other countries. Omolara Ojo, a 20-year-old sophomore psychology major from Nigeria, expressed the shock her family felt upon learning about Donald Trump’s presidential win.
“We knew that Donald Trump had a huge following but nobody was really expecting him to win,” said Ojo. “In my household there were a lot of mixed emotions.”
Similar to the rift between friends and family that spread throughout America, Ojo found that even some of her closest relatives have radically different opinions when it comes to politics.
“My mom, both my brothers, my sister in law, and I all voted for Hillary,” said Ojo. “However, my dad voted for Trump. My mom and dad would fight all the time over politics throughout the whole election. I personally have very high expectations for Donald Trump, because now in order to really unite the country he has to go back and apologize to every group he insulted.”
The topic of immigration has been a staple of American politics for the past year, and with the president-elect officially coming into office in January, refugees are some of the most affected by the outcome of any new changes to foreign policy. Shaymaa Mohammed, a 22-year-old junior English major from Jordan describes her own unique situation.
“Immigrants like me are affected in many, many ways by this result,” said Mohammed. “Back home was such a mess. All my relatives and friends were calling and texting and were really worried about what’s gonna happen to us. Are we going back to Jordan? Are we safe? What will happen next? They all asked me, ‘how are your fiancé’s papers going on?’”
Mohammed’s poignant reality is one that is being felt by many immigrants who fear how their lives in America are going to be impacted in the future.
“For more than a year I was working on many papers to bring my fiancé to this country as an immigrant, and if the border is going to be closed that means I will never see him unless I go back to Jordan and live there, which is a whole different issue by itself,” said Mohammed. “Many concerns and worries are surrounding me and my family and we hope all goes well. My family said: ‘He won, he was elected by Americans, nothing we can do, but we have to give him a chance and see what he will do.’”
This is the ultimate consensus that Americans have come to: whatever transpires in the next four years is out of our hands and remains to be seen, but what we can do is hold onto the hope that everything will turn out well.