Trump win leaves UAE students at a loss
Dubai - Many are now reconsidering their study abroad options.
Donald Trump's US election win has thrown a spanner in the works for many students in the UAE, who had hopes of pursuing higher education in the US. And many are now reconsidering their study abroad options.
Seventeen-year-old Zoha Ali always had plans to go to the US. But as a Muslim Pakistani, she said she cannot help but wonder if she'll be the target of hate crime as an overseas student there.
"I've seen things on social media that have left me worried. People are being targeted in subways and on school campuses and these are all areas I'll be frequenting if I move there," she told Khaleej Times.
After spending countless hours over the past few months shortlisting US university applications, Ali said her biggest concern now is whether she'll be treated like an outsider.
"Choosing a university, especially one overseas, is already a stressful process. This is just adding to the pressure," she said.
Following Trump's feat over Hilary Clinton last week, many students in the UAE are of the same sentiment as Ali. Although she said she has "not completely ruled out" studying there, she has been forced to consider alternative options in Canada.
"It feels unfair to have been put in this predicament, but I'm not the only one."
Grade 12 student, A.M., said he has been left in a state of flux, too.
"I always had my sights set on a US education but now I feel uneasy about it."
Australia could be another choice, but he said being so far from home it's not ideal. "I feel lost, and I'm just not sure I'd feel safe going to the US, especially as it's my first time going overseas alone."
But taking a more positive approach on the issue is 18-year-old Pakistani student Shahamah Tariq
Although the election results were a shock to her, she said she's adamant to pursue her studies abroad. "There has been so much on social media about the hate campaigns following Trump's win, but on the other side, we've seen students stand together and protest against that hate. That's encouraging to see."
Things will settle
There is no doubt social media has played a huge part in portraying the negative reaction to Trump's win, but it has also acted as a call for help for some.
Rema Menon, director of Counselling Point Training & Development in Dubai, told Khaleej Times that many of her students studying in the US have reached out to her over Facebook.
"They have been expressing concern over what their status as students will be there - especially Muslim students."
And though the concern is well placed, Menon said she expects things to "die down very soon".
"One of my students, a Muslim boy, is studying at RIT in New York and his student counsel has offered lots of support."
And even president Janet Napolitano of the University of California issued a statement, which said it is "proud of being a diverse and welcoming place for students... with a wide range of backgrounds, experiences and perspectives".
Although the recent elections upheaval has created concern among students, Menon urged them not to fear as support is always available. - firstname.lastname@example.org