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International students express interest

Published: Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 10:10

international interest in campaign

Alex Hernandez, Staff Photographer

Marlee Nitasaka, a senior social work major of Japan, read an article Monday morning about how Hurrican Sandy had disrupted the presidential race.

Although many students at ASU will have several opportunities to vote in U.S. presidential elections, international students are only allowed to spectate, and don’t have the right to vote.

Whether one votes in the election this November, everyone has a right to their opinion, including international students.  
Anna Tikhonova, a graduate assistant of Krasnoyarsk, Russia, who works at the Office of International Programs at ASU, said international students aren’t given any type of orientation about American politics prior to their arrival in the U.S.

Although no orientation is required, most international students familiarize themselves with American government  and politics.

“I think when you stay in another country for a long time, you should be able to know not only about its culture, its language, but you also need to think the way Americans think,” Tikhonova said.

“To be able to communicate factually with Americans when you come to the U.S., you have to know who people really are and politics is one of the most important things in America,” she continued.

Because international students don’t have the right to vote in the election, it is not too difficult to think many might not consider that issues and policies here can directly affect them.

Immigration, for example, is an issue that can directly affect international students, although many may not realize it.

“I haven’t heard of recent policies on immigration, but during foreign policy debates, (the presidential candidates) were talking about immigration and whether you should have illegal immigrants here or not and the consequences of illegal immigration,” Tikhonova said.

“So I think that students who came from abroad and who would like to stay here, they will be aware of the policies and immigration regulations. I think from that perspective this policy affects international students,” she added.

Marlee Nitasaka, a senior of Fukuoka, Japan, majoring in social work, said she feels international students should care about politics here.

She believes international students simply don’t care about American politics because they don’t get to vote in the election.  
“It’s not just students’ responsibilities, but we are also adults or young adults. We have the responsibility to know what is going on, especially when we live here,” Nitasaka said.

“I don’t think Japan touches on the topic on the election a whole lot, but since Japan and America have a strong relationship, it matters to Japanese politics,” she added.

However, several international students feel differently about this.

Rony Smolyaev, an international business major of Chercassy, Ukraine, said, “I personally think that whether we care or not it does not really matter, because we are obviously not the ones electing the president. I would care a little more if I knew about issues that affected me directly, however my opinion would not cause any changes,” Smolyaev said.

Websites like can help students understand where candidates stand on different issues and see how it affects them directly.

Ali Abo- Zaid, a graduate student of Tripoli, Libya, said he feels this is a great opportunity given the recent political changes in his country.

“It’s a really great experience for me because we did not have any elections during the Gaddafi regime in Libya, but now we are doing elections so it will give me more knowledge to watch it here in U.S.,” Abo- Zaid said.

Abo- Zaid also said students should care about politics and the election in the U.S., especially those who have lived under a dictatorship like he has because it gives them a chance to know how a democracy and elections work.

“We don’t have presidential debates (in Russia), and those elections are not as transparent. People are not so interested in politics because our country is not so democratic, and people are not so involved,” she said.

“When I came here I saw a huge contrast between the United States and Russia. Here people are very concerned with how the government will affect their lives at a national and local level,” she added.


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