Story+ 2021 | Hardship and Resilience: Experiences of International Students During COVID-19

Story+ 2021 | Hardship and Resilience: Experiences of International Students During COVID-19

Learn more at: https://fhi.duke.edu/story

In light of anti-immigrant and “America First” policies, the last four years have been incredibly difficult for international students. The COVID-19 pandemic further exposed the racial and socio-economic inequality on our campuses. While the majority of the international students returned to their home countries or otherwise found safe accommodations with close friends or extended family in the U.S., a small number of students remained in residence on campus because of travel restrictions, limited financial resources, lack of reliable internet access back home, or health and safety concerns. Students who remained on campus had to adjust quickly to online learning and social support available under conditions of lockdown, social distancing, and a limited student affairs presence – all of which was different from what the international students expected when they made the decision to study in the U.S. While these students faced difficult personal and educational circumstances, they also showed remarkable resilience. Through reviewing the history of international students in the U.S. and current government regulations affecting students in nonimmigrant status, and interviewing undergraduates with various cultural backgrounds, the undergraduate and graduate students participating on this research team worked toward an understanding of international student experiences in the U.S. higher education context. The website they created together, at https://sites.duke.edu/hardshipandresilience/, documents student experiences during this unprecedented time for our institutional records.

Story+ is a 6-week summer research experience for Duke undergraduates interested in exploring humanities research approaches (archival research, oral histories, narrative analysis, visual analysis, and more). The program combines research with an emphasis on storytelling for different public audiences. In Story+, students are organized into small project teams and have the opportunity to participate in a flexible mini “curriculum” on research methods and storytelling strategies. Team projects may be led by Duke faculty, Duke librarians, or non-profit organizations, and will be supervised on a day-to-day basis by graduate student mentors.