“Are you scared?”
“Is that you being strong?”
“No. I panicked for a couple hours but it occurred to me that I have been here before. Scared, thinking the world is coming to an end and then somehow I make it out. No I am not scared.”
This is one of many conversations I am having in the wake of the new regulation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that would require anyone with a student Visa would need to leave the country if colleges have their classes exclusively online for the Fall semester.
I call my mother next before any pop ups on her social media feeds. She listens intently until I am done before she has to go back to work. My mother is a problem solver. She does not panic. She strategizes. I have gradually become her as I grow older.
This past Fall, I am in a production class studying Virtual Reality. For an assignment, I am recording a band using a 360 camera and match that with ambisonic sound to give an immersive experience to the audience. It is all nice and dandy until I get to the editing room and I do not have sound. At this point I have two choices, forfeit the grade or redo the project but request for a late submission date.
My colleague seated besides me asks why I am not freaking out. I tell him no amount of fear would give me good sound. Screaming my head off would not be appropriate for an Amanda Cook’s Pieces cover.
Traveling alone to a new a country with your dreams in hand. Sleeping in a 3-bedroom house in a new land alone with no idea where anything is found. Teaching my very first class of 30 white students. Walking home for the first time in snow because you missed the bus. Losing a summer job because of Coronavirus. The pandemic. The discovery of flying snakes. A potential second pandemic.
These things scare me not the idea that I would have to go back home. I understand the disruption it would cause but I refuse for my well being to be tethered to decisions I have no part in making.
Harvard and MIT have sued the administration over ICE’ directive. Twitter academia is furious over the announcement. Numbers are thrown around to quantify our contribution to the American economy. The $41B injected into the economy in 2019. Not forgetting the 40% of Nobel peace prizes won by Americans are earned by immigrants and capitalistic justification goes on.
The school has sent numerous emails of assurance with a promise to update us on further developments. My circle has called numerous times with support and prayers all which are keeping me sane.
The directive gives me a familiar feeling. It is the same feeling when a boss calls you into an office and tells you that the company is going under and no one will survive. Or when a cheque bounces as two months rent arrears stare you in the face. The hollowness of unpaid leave that reminds you that you are part of a production chain.
No I am not scared or worried. I have been here before which gives me shocks for any government directive founded on fear and insinuates xenophobia. In all instances I survived better than I thought I would.
A little security is that this is no surprise to God. If anything he must be amused. Jesus himself was a refugee and immigrant managed to live out his purpose. I will roll with the punches and trust everything in me has led me here and I am exactly where I need to be.