My mother is standing over my shoulder as I scan the application that qualifies selected students for scholarships to one of the journalism graduate schools I had applied to.
A New Yorker, born and raised, I only met the prerequisites of one scholarship.
“It looks like all the international students are entitled to the scholarships,” to which my mom replied, “it’s unfair. They’re not looking out for their own citizens [Americans].”
I have always been irked by the many international students who attend elite universities in the United States. I’ll just be honest here and disclose the fact that most of these students were born into a family of such economically sound status that they buy their way into and out of the admissions process.
They attend “American” academies and private schools that are microcosms of New York’s Upper East Side in the middle of the desert, tropics, or whatever other non-western hemispherical biosphere they inhabit.
Many of these students told me that they had no intention of staying here - the place where they acquired a higher education. Their lifestyles back home is a cushioned landing pad that breaks their fall upon jumping up and away from the land where they were forced to be wired on coffee, not tea, and perform long working hours to prove their skill sets.
They have it made at home.
One of my peers in college showed me a photo of a mother and her daughter, crouched on their hind-legs. The mother wasn’t exactly smiling, but she wasn’t pouting either. She was doing her job well - staring at the camera without a fuss but just doing as asked by the offspring of the master/mistress of the house.
“This is my cook and her daughter,” my campus-buddy told me.
She then elaborated quickly with regards to the job description of the lady in the photo who was not cooking but cleaning. I didn’t ask for clarification because my eyes did not conceal what’s so very apparent. Her cook was basically a multipurpose maid who had no choice but to bring her small daughter along with her.
“I love that little girl,” she said. “She used to be scared of me because -”
At this point in the conversation, my quasi-friend but more of a forced acquaintanceship by means of dormitory-living, had faltered in her speech; “-because we don’t look like them.”
You don’t look like them? Way to state the obvious.
She continued in her ill attempt to sugar-coat the idea of people serving her “we’re her employers.”
I have tried to consolidate a solid friendship with people whom I just consider to be campus-bodies due to consequence.
One time I had opened up my home to someone.
I used to enjoy the idea of sleepovers growing up, however, as academia continued to make its formidable presence, I slowly discounted every aspect of socializing that I had once associated with those of a more romanticized era.
On the way to my house my college peer who does not hold a U.S. passport had called me. I told her where to catch the bus, a twenty or twenty-five minute ride from the train station.
Not even twenty minutes later I picked up my phone to hear her voice faltering to the noise of undoubtedly a house party or club scene: “I heard the bus-stop area is really sketchy. I heard it wasn’t safe there. I’m taxi-ing it to your house.”
I was taken off guard, insulted, offended and stupefied. New York City is one of the safest places. There is such a network of police precincts that if one were to draw a line between all of them, it would make for a very tedious game of connect-the-dots.
Furthermore, I grew up taking the city bus, as did everyone else, to and from school. My parents would never jeopardize their daughter if they thought I was at risk.
To be frank, the place that the international student from is arguably the sketchiest place on earth.
That aside, these very same students have no roots here. They do not have any family obligations or duties in this part of the world and so they can take off whenever, wherever.
They can hop along state lines, magically sponsored, their visa akin to the elixir from Tuck Everlasting.
Their friends are their quote unquote family. I cannot say that the same goes for me. I can say that it does not pertain to me.
With that said, anything that said person does will be broadcasted. The compensation for their lack of roots will be mass adulation and their silent basking in praise mistaken for humility.
Seems the microcosmic center for learning the English language has rubbed off on others’ knowledge for what the meaning of humility truly is.
Seems to me that I am rooted.
Seems to me that wanderlust is just a means to finding one’s roots.