YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown State University welcomed more than 150 international students to campus on Tuesday.
The students spent the day at orientation, preparing for a semester in the United States.
Administrators working for the international program said with the political tension in the last few months, they were worried it would keep international students away but this year’s group is the biggest they’ve had.
YSU will be home to 185 students from 15 different countries this year, including Nepal, Kuwait, and South Korea.
In addition to the typical first-day jitters and jet lag, many students were also thinking about politics. While none of the students on campus Tuesday are impacted by President Trump’s travel ban, some said it is on their mind.
“I would say we’ve heard that even more from our students that are directly affected, wondering, ‘With a strike of a pen, is my country next?’” said Carly Devenburgh, with the university’s international program.
Praise Nwagu is a 16-year-old student from Nigeria. She’s currently in an eight-year program hoping to become a dentist. She worries that her eight years may be cut short.
“Within the years of my studies, just see international students or Nigerians, ‘Go back to your country,’” Nwagu said.
According to the travel ban, students with valid visas are allowed to enter the United States. International students should have no issue coming into the country.
“They are nervous about how quickly things are changing in the landscape and will they be accepted by the community,” Devenburgh said.
Despite the political tension, many students said they just want to focus on their studies. They’ve enjoyed YSU so far.
“Very helpful – everything you need. Since I came here, they will help you with everything you need,” Ali Yousef said.
Within the last few years, YSU has gained a large Middle Eastern population. Some of that comes from government sponsorship but administrators say it’s also because of the university’s reputation for a quality education.