A panel of international students from Canada, China, Pakistan, Ghana, the United Kingdom and Ukraine shared their perspectives Thursday on how their home countries’ governments have perceived President Donald Trump’s first year in office. The event, which was hosted by the Office of International Services, took place in the fishbowl of the University Religious Center. Attendees were offered free catered lunch.
Robert English, an associate international relations professor, moderated the event and covered topics such as political polarization, an increase in racial intolerance and violence, foreign policy and nationalistic attitudes.
The panelists were all current or former international students from across different majors. Sarah Riaz, a graduate student from Pakistan studying computer science in the Viterbi School of Engineering, spoke passionately against the Trump administration’s travel ban and rhetoric against Middle East immigration. She cited this as proof for the United States’ need for better foreign policy.
“All of us are part of a global community, we need to work together to promote global good,” Riaz said.
However, some panelists explained that their countries’ governments and citizenries were more optimistic about Trump’s first year in office. Kwabena Gyimah-Asante, who was born and raised in Accra, Ghana, moved to the United States in 2012 to begin his undergraduate studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Now, he is a graduate student studying petroleum engineering and finance at USC.
“From a governmental point of view, I think [Ghana] views it with cautious optimism, the reason being that historically, we’ve had a lot of economic relationships with the Republican political party here in the United States, so we’ve built a lot of economic relationships and investments in infrastructure and so forth, [which] have come under Republican parties,” Gyimah-Asante said.
Vik Nguyen, an undergraduate senior studying history, lived in both Russia and Ukraine in the past.
“A lot of what is associated with Republicans and with Donald Trump didn’t matter to [Russia and Ukraine], so things like his stance on immigration, his stance on conservative values … it doesn’t matter because Ukraine and Russia actually share most of those views,” Nguyen said.
Christie Chapman, a graduate student studying global communication, pushed back against some countries’ more lenient stances on Trump’s presidency.
Chapman, speaking on behalf of the United Kingdom, emphasized the important parallel between Trump’s election and Brexit, and the growing concern of British urban youth in this push toward conservatism.
“We see our prime ministers and leaders as the people who shape ideology,” Chapman said. “I think in terms of Trump’s views on diversity and immigration and even women’s rights, I can’t understand how people can think that that’s not a prevalent issue, and how action is more important than what he presents himself as as a person. I think if you are a world leader you have to represent the values of your country.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misspelled Vik Nguyen’s name and misquoted Nguyen. It has since been updated to include the correct spelling and quote. The Daily Trojan regrets this error.