Nov. 3 is a high-stakes game for the entire world.
People will tune into their computers, televisions and phone screens to watch what could be the end of a world era. Like most international students in the United States, I will tune in to see what will happen to the rest of my life
The decision to come to school in America was made on the same assumptions people have been making for years. America was the place where one went to become the truest version of oneself, to make a life that everyone could be proud of. Make it in America, we immigrants tell ourselves, and you’re set for life. Despite the fact that Donald Trump is president, and that being Black in America is a death sentence, the forecast was for sunny skies. I’d come to Yale, work hard and watch my wonderful life unfold before me.
A lot has changed since that initial dream. Immigrants who arrived at the border hoping to make a life for themselves were separated from their parents and their children. Many of them have still not been reunited. When COVID-19 entered the arena, students who had worked hard and gained admission to the schools of their dreams suddenly saw that consulate services had been suspended. Some of us were brave enough to stay and were told that our education could be terminated. The COVID-19 outbreak and general attitude of nonchalance towards the pandemic made the U.S. passport one of the most unpopular passports in the world. But let’s face it, the United States has been in a downward spiral since 2017. We’re at the last stop before rock bottom.
If Trump wins, trade deals, climate security and the overall health and safety of the world will be at risk. COVID-19 will continue to go unregulated, meaning even more unnecessary deaths. It’s not unfounded to predict that these cases will eventually spread throughout the planet. The current racial crisis will also go unsolved and continue to spread pain and terror throughout the country. The dreams of student immigrants could be cut short forever, considering that the Trump administration has already proposed legislation that would shorten their visa terms.
The American dream is nearing its end. We’ve known it for years and willingly turned a blind eye, hoping that someone would swoop in to scoop up the pieces and glue them back together. The world has lived on in willful ignorance, pretending that it’s only going to last a short time, that it’s just a small dry spell. This election is a wake-up call for all of us.
America isn’t just the final frontier for dreams — it’s the final frontier for democracy, too. The election has exposed the true America, one where anything goes to ensure a win. Voter suppression continues to prevail as people struggle to exercise their democratic rights.
Here in Africa, where presidents take lifetime terms, the United States is seen as a place where things work. Governments represent the people, the president is their largest voice and one can always rely on the systems in place to guard the sovereignty of the nation. If democracy doesn’t work in America, where does it work? The rest of the democratic world, countries that have prayed for the end of oppressive regimes, will all be resigned to a truth that we do not want to swallow. It must work this time, or we’re all doomed.
Yet within the apocalypse, there exists a glimmer of hope. I have been absolutely blown away by the dedication of my peers to ensuring that they take part in the democratic process. All over the United States, members of Generation Z have made infographics, phone banked and stood in miles-long queues just to make sure they vote. In the minutes before one of my classes, an American classmate gave a 5-minute breakdown on what to do for every possible outcome of a failed attempt to vote by mail. Fifteen minutes before the class ended, she excused herself to make calls to infrequent voters in her hometown. It’s cliche to say, but there really is hope in the youth. I fully trust my peers to make the right choices and institute change where they see we need it most.
The American election is going to be watched by all, and the results are going to be felt by all. As an international student, I can only hope that American citizens make the right choice today. For the sake of the social, political and economic world that is dominated by America, they have to.
AWUOR ONGURU is a first year in Berkeley College. Contact her firstname.lastname@example.org.