Maddie: Today I’m sitting here with Maria-Elena Navarro from Trinidad, and I’m going to ask her some questions about being an international student. So, tell me a little about yourself.
Maria-Elena:So I’m from the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago. So like the last islands of the Caribbean chain, and I have lived their for my entire life. My parents are both Trinidadian. I founded the Caribbean students association, so we can spread the fun vibe of the Caribbean culture here in the states.
Maddie: Maria-Elena, how did you choose to come to the U.S.?
Maria-Elena: My dad went to St. Ed’s, so when I had to choose a university I came to this one because he said it was good.
Maddie: Have you ever been put in a situation which you needed to clarify stereotypes or assumptions about your home culture?
Maria-Elena: Yes, because I am caucasian, people automatically assume I am not from Trinidad, but when I say that I am people are like no but seriously where are your parents from. There are white people in Trinidad too you know.
Maddie: Has your experience here helped you gain an appreciation for the world?
Maria-Elena: Well I have to say in Trinidad we are real culturally diverse, so we have lots of different people there, but here as well, and I think that’s been kind of helpful because it has continued to leave me exposed to different diversities.
Maddie: What are the biggest challenges you’ve had being an international student here at St. Ed’s?
Maria-Elena: Visa Issues.
Maddie: What were your visa issues?
Maria-Elena: Basically it’s really difficult to get a visa and when I’m in Trinidad and want to apply for one in the states, Trinidad does not really have the best track record, which is unfair. You have to go through this really long process and it takes months for your visa to even be approved, and then at any minute it could be cancelled. So, it’s really really scary and you feel vulnerable because of it.
Maddie: Are you considering staying in the US after graduation or are you looking to go back to Trinidad?
Maria-Elena: Yeah, I’m applying for my OPT visa which basically grants you one year to work in the states within the nature that you studied. So, I definitely think that is a great opportunity so I’m going to take that hopefully like I have applied for it already so once it comes through I will stay here and try and work for a year, and then I will go back home.
Maddie: Thank you Maria-Elena for taking time out of your day to let us know what it’s like being an international student at St. Ed’s.