International student at NWTC speaks out about ICE announcement

Many students are afraid they'll be sent home if colleges go back to online classes because of the pandemic
Published: Jul. 9, 2020 at 4:51 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Many international students studying at colleges and universities across the country fear they may be sent home this fall.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Monday those students must take in-person classes or else learn online from their home countries.

Sylvester Ndifor came to the United States nearly four years ago from Cameroon in Central Africa.

“I moved to NWTC in 2017 to study, go into the nursing program,” said Ndifor.

He hopes to graduate next May as one of nearly 60 international students enrolled at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) for the fall semester.

“There’s beauty in diverse learning,” said Ndifor. “We are all here to gain this wealth of knowledge so that eventually we can take it to our home countries and instill in them the knowledge we acquired in the United States.”

That trip back home might come sooner than expected for Ndifor and thousands of other international students learning in the United States under the recent ICE announcement.

“We feel like we are not valued, because if we have a pandemic of such nature plaguing our society, and we are being technically forced to school in-person, which we are not practicing social distancing by doing that, then that makes us liable to getting the coronavirus,” said Ndifor. “That is not helpful in any way to the current situation.”

ICE would only send home international students at colleges and universities offering only online classes this fall. That is not the plan at NWTC.

A statement to Action 2 News from NWTC President Dr. Jeff Rafn reads: “NWTC is planning to offer in-person and blended programs this fall which means that according to the new rules, international students enrolled at NWTC would be able to stay in the United States to complete their program of study. The college recognizes that the delivery method is subject to change in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We would work with international students at that time with respect to their courses and ability to stay in the US. NWTC greatly values international students who are an integral part of the diverse culture of the United States, including the Northeast Wisconsin community. We are here to support our students and ensure their success.”

Ndifor is staying positive and hoping he and other international students will get the chance to continue their education in the United States. “I have put in a lot to be able to go through the nursing program here in the United States, and it brings me joy to finally see the end of the tunnel. I finally see the possibility to being able to graduate and become a nurse, something I’ve always wished for.”

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