International community faces unique challenges during COVID-19

Apr 25, 2021 | Students

COVID-19 forced Louisiana Tech to switch gears and find new ways to provide students, faculty and staff a quality education and work space while maintaining a safe environment. The international community on campus has experienced this shift in unique ways.

For the past year, international students at Tech have had to face problems such as travel restrictions, a lack of funding and being away from home during the pandemic. They have adapted through the change and continue to work towards their degrees.

Jay Ligon, Director of International Student and Scholar Services, said international students had to deal not only with the pandemic here but also how the pandemic was affecting their families back home. This put a financial strain on them, and the International Student Office (ISO) did fundraisers and worked with food banks to help provide for its students.

To keep the community engaged, the ISO did things such as setting up a collaborative Spotify playlist and compiling a video of everyone sharing how they are spending quarantine.

“That’s one of my proudest things, is just seeing how that kind of showed even in one of our most difficult times,” Ligon said. “Our community is really strong.”

Along with how the pandemic was impacting Louisiana Tech, international students had additional worries about its impacts in their home countries.

“I was a bit worried,” said Ashish Khanal, an undergraduate mechanical engineering major from Nepal. “But my parents were contacting me regularly, and they were saying that it will be alright.”

Dr. Les Guice, president of Louisiana Tech, has regularly communicated through email throughout the pandemic, which has provided comfort to students like Khanal.

“The mail from Dr. Guice was what was helpful,” Khanal said. “Every morning, the first thing I did was check mail from Dr. Guice.”

Leandro Londin, a computer science major from Angola, was worried about the changing factors of his education that were going to potentially send him home.

“It was kind of scary, to be honest,” Londin said. “Especially when they say, ‘Okay. If you are international, and you have only online classes, then you will have to go home.’”

Although online learning presented challenges for students, Londin found the motivation to continue working hard.

“My main motivation is that my people back home is waiting for me to go back with a diploma and being a help for the country,” Londin said. “If you came with a goal, and you want to achieve your goal, then you gotta just put your head up and keep going. That’s what I do.”

As COVID-19 continues, there are ways for the Louisiana Tech community to support the international students of its campus.

“I want students to feel proud of who they are and where they are,” Ligon said. “And I think [that can happen] by getting recognition from senior leadership or current students, you know.”

This story was written by Communication student Madison Remrey.