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I am a Chinese high school student currently studying in the U.S. The pandemic has undoubtedly impacted our community in a multitude of ways. In 2020, the international enrollment at my school dropped significantly. And this decline is not just happening in my school, but rather nationwide. The U.S. News and World Report found that the total number of international students at U.S. universities dropped by 15 percent from 2020 to 2021.
The primary reason for this plunge is that, for many Asians, the U.S. is not a safe place anymore. The emergence of COVID-19 has become a blame game between Beijing and Washington. The politicization of the pandemic has generated a surge of hatred engulfing the Asian communities in the U.S.; it was the Asians and Asian Americans, the citizens of both countries, who ultimately paid the price.
After the shooting in Atlanta this March, many Chinese international students I knew returned home because they were afraid. What’s more, many parents who previously saw potential in U.S. colleges for their children have now altered their plans because of concerns about security.
These scholars we have scared away are major contributors to the U.S. academic and technological advancement as well as to our struggling economy: We need each other, and it is time for all of us to stop politicizing each other but treat one another as human beings. Thereby, the trust we once shared can be restored.