Being an International Student | Bawneet Singh | TEDxGuelphU | Summary and Q&A

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September 28, 2023
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Being an International Student | Bawneet Singh | TEDxGuelphU

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Summary

In this video, the speaker, an international student named Alex Jefferson, reflects on the sacrifices and challenges faced by international students. He discusses leaving loved ones behind, dealing with homesickness, and the stereotypes and lack of respect that international students often encounter. Despite these difficulties, he shares his personal journey of finding his worth and becoming an advocate for the international student community at the University of Guelph. The speaker emphasizes the importance of perseverance, community, and hope in navigating the paradigm shift of studying abroad.

Questions & Answers

Q: What sacrifices do international students make when studying abroad?

International students make numerous sacrifices when studying abroad. They leave behind their families, friends, and loved ones, often missing out on important moments and experiences. They also face the challenge of adapting to a new culture and environment, often leaving behind comforts and familiarity. These sacrifices extend beyond personal relationships, as students may also leave behind certain amenities and privileges that they once took for granted.

Q: What are the common challenges faced by international students?

International students face a range of challenges, including homesickness, loneliness, and a sense of feeling out of place. They may struggle with language barriers, cultural differences, and academic expectations. Additionally, they often carry the weight of stereotypes and a lack of respect, being seen only as cheap labor or limited to certain job roles. Financial pressure and the constant pursuit of a better life and brighter future can also cause stress and anxiety.

Q: How did the speaker overcome his feelings of worthlessness?

The speaker initially questioned his worth and felt insecure about competing with domestic students who had better English-speaking skills. However, he applied for a position to represent the University of Guelph and decided to initiate change within the international student community. By becoming actively involved in various organizations and departments on campus, he gained confidence and became a voice for international students. Through his experiences and accomplishments, he realized that he had the ability to make a difference and challenge stereotypes.

Q: What message does the speaker want to convey to international students?

The speaker encourages international students not to settle for less and to have patience and hope for a better future. He acknowledges the struggles and setbacks they face and emphasizes the importance of perseverance. The speaker believes that international students have invested not only economically, but also emotionally, mentally, and physically, and they deserve to strive for success and fulfillment. He urges them to value relationships, rely on the kindness of strangers who can become like family, and work together as a community to change the world for the better.

Q: What are some of the rewards that international students can experience?

Despite the challenges, international students can reap tremendous rewards. By stepping out of their comfort zones and embracing the paradigm shift of studying abroad, they develop resilience, adaptability, and a broader perspective of the world. They have the opportunity to gain a quality education, learn from diverse cultures, and make lifelong connections. International students can also become advocates for their communities, inspiring others and making a positive impact in their host countries.

Q: How do the setbacks in life contribute to personal growth?

According to the speaker, setbacks in life teach individuals valuable lessons that may not necessarily be learned through university classes. Facing loneliness and homesickness can deepen one's appreciation for relationships and the importance of human connection. These challenges also test one's strength and resilience, allowing individuals to develop self-reliance and emotional maturity. Overcoming setbacks can lead to personal growth and a stronger sense of self.

Q: How does the speaker address the fear of losing loved ones?

The speaker shares his personal fear of losing his grandmother, whose health is deteriorating. He acknowledges the pain of being physically separated from loved ones and the uncertainty of ever seeing them again. However, he finds solace in the belief that memories and love transcend physical distance. He clings to the moments he has with his loved ones through video calls but recognizes the temporary nature of these interactions. Ultimately, the speaker cherishes the time spent with loved ones, even if it is through a phone screen.

Q: What advice does the speaker give to international students?

The speaker advises international students not to lose faith and confidence in themselves. He urges them to persevere, be patient, and maintain hope for a better future. He encourages them not to settle for less and to recognize their potential to achieve great things. The speaker also emphasizes the importance of community, both within the international student population and with the kindness of strangers who can offer support and become like family. He urges international students to believe in their ability to make a positive impact and change the world.

Q: What are some of the leadership opportunities the speaker has taken on at the University of Guelph?

The speaker has taken on various leadership roles at the University of Guelph. He has become the social media ambassador for the international student community, as well as for the engineering department and the entire university. He has also served as a residence assistant, a bounce back facilitator, and the vice president for The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineer Guelph branch. He has actively sought out involvement with different organizations and departments on campus to contribute to the university community.

Q: How does the speaker describe the journey of studying abroad as a paradigm shift?

The speaker describes studying abroad as a paradigm shift because it involves a complete transformation of one's life and identity. International students are not simply changing their physical location; they are replacing an entire group, leaving behind the familiarity of a community and entering a foreign environment as individuals. This shift requires taking on the responsibility of not only their own lives but also embodying the ideologies and values of their home group. The speaker believes that this process requires immense patience, consistency, and hard work, as well as the ability to navigate the pressures that come with such a significant change.

Takeaways

The video highlights the sacrifices and challenges faced by international students, shedding light on the emotional toll of leaving loved ones behind and the stereotypes and lack of respect they often encounter. It emphasizes the importance of perseverance, community, and hope in navigating the paradigm shift of studying abroad. The speaker encourages international students to value relationships, rely on the kindness of strangers who can become like family, and work together as a community to make a positive impact in their host countries. The video serves as a reminder that setbacks in life can lead to personal growth and that, despite the difficulties, the rewards of studying abroad are immense.

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