MCC chosen to participate in nationwide initiative highlighting immigrant students

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FLINT (WJRT) - (02/22/17) - Concerns about President Donald Trump's immigration policies are spilling over into higher education.

International and immigrant students are paying close attention to what happens next with the president's travel ban.

Even before the president's initial travel ban was implemented and debated, students at Mott Community College were working on a project to tell their stories in a meaningful way.

They say it matters now more than ever.

It's called "Facing College," a part of the nationwide The Facing Project.

Director of Experiemental Learning, Debra Gibes, coordinated the project for the school.

"My father is an Italian immigrant, my grandparents are immigrants. All of, most people I know come from immigrant families, and I just had such a support network," she said. "And I want our immigrants and international students to know that we are a community here in Flint that has a support network for them."

MCC has approximately 300 foreign-born students. About 76 of them have an F1 visa, which is issued to international students studying in the United States.

"They have a lot of stress as it is, and to have other stressors, like the idea that a young man from Mexico coming here to study and he has a valid visa, but he's concerned if he goes home to visit his family over the holidays, will he come back in," Gibes said.

Vietnamese student Chit Tiet says she came to MCC to study nursing and to use that knowledge to help out at home. She was taking a profile photo Wednesday afternoon at the school.

The photo will accompany an article about her story of coming to America. That is what The Facing College initiative is all about.

"We, you know, get a lot of rhetoric from state levels and national levels, but we don't get the voice of the people in the communities," Gibes said.

The international students or storytellers have each been paired up with a student author, like Jazzmin Jackson. They conducted interviews and will write in 1,000 words the stories of each student, taking into account personal details of triumph and struggle.

"It really just teaches you to be grateful for what you have and what you don't have because like, my person, she was telling me how her mom was having to wash clothes by hand in Peru," Jackson said. "And so she was able to save up enough by being a nanny, and she was able to save up to buy her mom a washer and dryer, so it's just little things like that we take for granted."

MCC is one of three post-secondary Michigan schools chosen by the Michigan Campus Compact to participate.

Stories like the one above will be featured in a publication on May 11.

Along with MCC, Michigan State University and Central Michigan University were chosen to be part of The Facing Project.

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