|Addressing Trump's "Known Unknowns"
As the reality of the Trump Phenomenon settles in for international educators, it's prudent to consider three distinct phases of such phenomenon: From darkness, through fire, to light. Many colleagues would agree: We're enduring the heat of the flames at the moment.
But another interpretation of those three stages spins a more positive narrative, from Unknown Unknowns to Known Unknowns to Known Knowns. (I prefer to refer to Steven Poole's interpretation of this journey of scientific discovery in his best-seller, Re-Think, rather than Donald Rumsfeld's interpretation.)
I'd say we've reached the phase where we're emerging from total darkness around the current political scenario to some clarity around what we don't know -- which is in fact, real progress.
We know that the industry has been -- and will continue to be -- disrupted by the current administration (and a portion of the US population that supports them). We know we need to lead the critical charge against US isolationism, from a philosophical (defensive) perspective.
But there also needs to be a complementary charge on offense to address the known unknowns -- where leading international educators step up / lean in to drive a productive conversation with solutions that include deeper due diligence, more robust funds verification, and even establishing escrow accounts in some higher-risk jurisdictions.
Let's address those known unknowns by doing what we do best as international educators: Advance the notion of embracing the other. In this case, the "other" happens to be a guy with ideas very foreign to our own. Let's resist the temptation to actively dismiss a valuable learning / teaching opportunity.
Let's treat the Trump phenomenon like a study abroad experience.
We can find common ground across the political spectrum, in attracting the most academically-qualified and the most financially-qualified students and scholars, that will advance the US economy, while minimizing the risk of those student visa holders burdening our domestic resources.
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