To whom it may concern,
My name is Carlos Vera and I’m originally from Venezuela. I’m a thirty one year old male student seeking financial assistance with the sole purpose of finishing my undergraduate degree in the U.S. I’m only four semesters away from obtaining my B.A. in English. However, due to the political and economic crisis that my home country started to undergo in 2014, I was forced to abandon my studies in the U.S. and return home in April of that same year. Needless to say, it would be a true shame to lose all the number of college credits that have already been awarded to me towards the completion of my degree. Therefore, I’m really hoping that I can find resources that would allow me to finish my B.A. in English in the near future.
One of the main reasons why I believe to be deserving of your support is because I had gone through really tough experiences as an international student while in the U.S. My story began in 2008, when I traveled to America all the way from Venezuela. I attended Iowa Western Community College, but after a couple of semesters there, I transferred to Minneapolis Community & Technical College. As soon as I arrived in Minneapolis, I had to check in at the International Department of what would become my new school. And to my surprise, during my first meeting with the man in charge of international students, named Kevin Kujawa, he took the liberty to yell at me several times. His threatening position came from the simple fact that I wasn’t sure which major/field of study I wanted to choose from the MCTC’s catalog. This man was also my college adviser. So it was definitely his job to inform me about the school’s programs/fields of study. Instead, he decided to threaten me with his angry/strong demeanor while using terms such as probation, suspension and deportation. He then proceeded to give me a week to choose a major on my own. During my first year of attending this Community College, this man made me go see him once every two weeks. I suffered a great deal of oppression in every meeting I had with this particular person. And during the Fall-2010 semester, he basically made me go see him once a week. He would even schedule the appointments for me in his own desk computer at the end of each meeting. And again, this person’s main goal was to threaten me and bring me down morally every single time. He would even advise me not to go to shopping malls such as “The Mall of America” because he didn’t want me to socialize with people and/or make any friends/connections in the U.S. I’ve always been a shy guy my entire life, but after going through that horrible experience with Mr. Kujawa, I actually became a lot more insecure. Long story short, I was able to complete an A.F.A Degree in Theater with honors at MCTC. And I then transferred to the University of Minnesota to pursue a B.A. in English. But to my surprise, during my first meeting with Duane Rohovit, one of the men in charge of international students at the U, he started talking about wishing that the president of my country Hugo Chavez would die. I’ve never been in favor of Hugo Chavez’s policies. But I found it extremely offensive that this particular school official would say that to me during my first interview with him. He also went over the fact that many international students that went to study at the U of M “got burned and went back home”. He clearly wanted me to understand that since the school’s academic pace was very fast, it was a very difficult/tough one to keep up with. He then proceeded to give me a whole chat about domestic violence being severely punished in the U.S. Almost as if he thought I was going to end up hitting a woman or something along those lines. This was obviously super insane to say the least. And I felt that I couldn’t let what had already happened to me at MCTC happen to me all over again. So I started trying to make an indirect statement to this person by mentioning that based on past experiences, I had noticed that people holding jobs/positions like the one he had, seemed to behave as if they were cops. So he then tried to defend himself by telling me that he was a lawyer and that he had spent most of his life interrogating prisoners. And that working at a University was the last type of job that he would’ve ever imagined holding. He also mentioned that he knew Kevin Kujawa very well because he often kept in touch with him over the phone since most students transferred between colleges. After I got out of this meeting at the U, a memory of one of my last visits to Mr. Kujawa’s office passed through my mind. In that meeting, he mentioned very quietly and quickly that he had worked for immigration for twenty eight years prior to holding the position he had at that Community College. This pretty much shows that the U.S. Government is purposely placing very threatening individuals with extremely tough professional backgrounds in schools all over the U.S. to deal with International Students.
After I took a couple of semesters at the U of M, I returned back to my home country due to a separation with whom I believed to be the love of my life at the time. I lived back in Venezuela from January of 2013 until June of that same year. I then went back to the U.S. But this time, I attended California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) to see if I could complete my B.A. in English there. During this journey, I was detained at the international airport in Atlanta by customs. It was the first time this had ever happened to me. And I was put in an enclosed glass room filled with a bunch people from Mexico, who were literally wearing ponchos and funny hats. A whole hour had passed before they finally called my name for an interview. The customs’ officer interviewing me was very rude and threatening to me the whole time. She was basically telling me I couldn’t enter the U.S. two months prior to the start of my semester. Even though I had a valid F-1 Student Visa, it didn’t really seem to matter to these people at all. Apparently, there is a law written somewhere that states that international students are not supposed to enter the country more than a month prior to the start of their school semester. So I was actually clueless about this law. And I certainly was not warned about it by the U.S. Government official that granted me the student visa at the U.S. embassy in Venezuela. Long story short, I was finally able to talk my way out of this horrible situation by being completely honest and submissive to the immigration officer at customs. This fortunately allowed me to catch my next flight on time. As soon as I arrived to CSULB to check in with their international department, I was interviewed by the director of the department. To my surprise, she got noticeably mad at me when I told her about my experience with customs at the international airport in Atlanta. She also adopted this threatening demeanor and started telling me that I had probably lost my F-1 Student legal status, which meant that I had to go back home. She even said that I should’ve never been allowed to come into the country by customs because I was entering the U.S. a month and a half prior to the start of my semester. Needless to say, I was extremely shocked that my own school, the one that I was about to spend literally thousands of dollars on, was telling me that I should’ve never been allowed into the country. And that I most likely was going to have to go back home! Anyways, this director then proceeded to make a few phone calls from her desk, only to find out that my legal status had not been compromised despite of my experience with customs.
All these experiences are what make me believe that the code of ethics in the U.S. education system has gone down the toilet. The international student advisers I encountered over the years were nothing but rude to me. And I’ve always wondered whether I could’ve taken some type of legal action against them when I went through those traumatizing times. As a foreigner, I just felt powerless in each of those situations. Those international student advisers hold too much power and they’re allowed to act very unethically. For anybody reading this story, please let international students know that you understand their struggles. Try not to judge us simply because we were not born in America. We’re merely pursuing our dreams and we really do love the U.S. Sometimes even more so than we do our own home land. Most of us go to America with good intentions and we do our best to be honorable and productive citizens of that amazingly intellectual and advanced society.
Thank you very much for your time to read this.
Copyright © 2015-2018 Carlos Vera. All Rights Reserved.