Mariatul Dianah Hidzir, a foreign exchange student at Missouri Western, says she was just about to go to sleep Tuesday, Nov. 8, whenever she heard the news that shocked her – America had just elected Donald Trump as their next president.
“I just had to force myself to go to sleep,” Hidzir said. “Yeah, life had to go on.”
The Malaysian-born Muslim says that her concern focus mainly on her religion. Following a campaign which often contained rhetoric directed toward Muslims, Hidzir says her first reaction was fear.
“At first, after the election,” Hidzir said, “I immediately thought, ‘I want to buy a plane ticket and go back home and just hug my parents.”
But Hidzir didn’t buy that ticket; instead, she found an outlet to try and change the nearby community.
Hidzir presented about her home country of Malaysia at the fifth annual International Fair at Western, Monday afternoon. The fair hosted 25 booths, each representing a different country.
Hidzir says she hoped the fair helped to change the community’s view of Muslim women.
“If I can educate people about where I’m from, how not oppressed I am, how not harmful I am to other people, I will do it,” Hidzir said. “Just to step out and prove that anyone from any minorities can actually do what they want to do.”
Other foreign exchange students share similar concerns about Trump’s policies, some for reasons that directly affect them.
“It makes my heart stop a little bit to know that there’s an immigration policy in place against certain people, against certain races and certain religions,” said Deir Montiel Dominguez, a student at Western. “I have family that are here undocumented here in the United States. So I’m not afraid, but I’m just worried about them not being able to benefit from a good life.”
During an interview on “60 Minutes” set to air Sunday, Trump set forth his policy to deport up to three million undocumented immigrants “immediately.”
Despite an uncertain future for many international students, Dominguez says he remains hopeful.
“We’re trying to stay positive, we’re hoping for the best so we’ll support whatever Trump, the new president has to offer,” Dominguez said. “I think if we offer positive outcomes, they’ll be positive incomes as well.”