Tufts students abroad respond to results of U.S. election

Tufts students abroad, like their counterparts on the Medford/Somerville campus, are coming to grips with their feelings following the presidential election. Some students studying through Tufts Programs Abroad in Madrid, Santiago and Paris described a sense of separation from political events in the United States. Several students also participated in demonstrations in their host countries and engaged in conversations with locals following the election.

Cameron Eck, a junior in the Tufts-in-Chile program, described walking the streets of Santiago in a daze after the election as he realized how distant his experience was from that of the Chilean public.

“[Chilean natives], for the most part, they don’t care. It doesn’t affect them,” he said. “And it was only when I’d find myself around American friends that I would feel [okay] … I wanted to talk about it with people and vent about it with people.”

Rebecca Schaub, another junior studying in Chile, said she spoke to her host family about the election results and felt that their responses, while sympathetic, indicated a lack of full comprehension.

“I don’t think that anyone in my [host] house really understands the gravity of what’s happening in the [United States] with this or what I was feeling,” she said. “Because it was a lot of like, ‘Don’t worry,’ ‘Have hope’ … I know that at home, those aren’t the words people are saying. It’s more like, ‘How do we deal with this?’”

According to junior Adam Kercheval, another Tufts student in Chile, Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile from 1973 to 1990 stands out as potentially similar to a Trump presidency. Kercheval said that many Chileans have chosen to understand the election results through the lens of Pinochet’s rule.

Comparing the two political leaders, Chileans have responded with messages of courage and resilience, Kercheval said.

“A lot of the things they keep telling us are that we can’t live in fear. That’s kind of the main thesis of what they’re saying,” Kercheval said. “And I think that’s an interesting perspective that they can have, kind of personally, because they were all here during something very similar to what’s going on now.”

Eck heard similar feedback from Chilean locals.

“Nobody likes him here. Nobody likes Trump at all. They mostly were just like, ‘I’m sorry, there’s nothing we can do about it now,'” he said. “I think the comparisons to the dictatorship are the predominant thing that people have talked about.”

Luis Del Rosario, a junior studying at Sciences Po in Paris with the Tufts-in-Paris program, sees a growing isolationist trend in world politics that he believes has been exacerbated by the results of the election. He noted that European countries seem to be drawing inward, turning to the United States less for guidance and leadership.

Del Rosario added that, from his perspective in Europe, the election reminded him of Brexit, the June 23 referendum in which British citizens voted to exit the European Union.

“It was like Brexit had happened all over again, but it was 10 times worse,” he said.

Schaub also compared the election results to Brexit, drawing an analogy between Americans’ reactions to Brexit and Chileans’ reactions to Trump’s win.

It’s just something that’s happening in another country,” she said. “I keep comparing [my experience] to [that of] everyone in the [United States] when Brexit happened. We knew that it was serious, but we were like ‘Ah! I can’t believe England did that!’”

Students in the Tufts-in-Madrid program, run jointly by Tufts and Skidmore College as Tufts-Skidmore Spain, have actively protested against the U.S. election. Juniors Ana Manriquez, Anna Del Castillo and Mateo Davis worked together to organize a rally on Nov. 27. The goal of the demonstration, according to Del Castillo, was to hold the U.S. government accountable for the harm it is doing to minority communities.

As a Latina, Manriquez has felt personally victimized by Trump’s rhetoric. A permanent resident of the United States who moved to the country from Mexico at the age of six, she said that the election results personally affect her and the people she loves.

Del Castillo and Manriquez said they named their working group “Love Trumps Hate Madrid” because of the powerful message of love that drives their activism.

“I know that although our goal is to hold the U.S. government accountable for protecting people in our communities, we’re only going to get that done if, at the root of what we are doing, we are doing it with this radical love,” Del Castillo said.

Manriquez highlighted the importance of putting love at the center of their work.

“We chose the theme of love so that we can love one another, and by loving one another … gain the strength that we need now to not be silenced,” Manriquez said.

Tufts students in France and Chile have not been involved in political activism as a unified group, according to Del Rosario and Eck. They attribute this to the low numbers of students in these programs compared to the number of students in Madrid.

There are 15 Tufts students in Santiago, according to Eck, and 11 in Paris, according to Del Rosario. In comparison, Eck said there are 70 Tufts and Skidmore students studying abroad in the Tufts-Skidmore Spain program. Eck, Schaub and Kercheval said they did not hear of protests against the American election in Chile.

“What’s interesting is that there [are] a lot of protests already going on about the government’s health care programs and social security programs, so I don’t even think that a lot of Chileans want to protest the American election. It’s probably not the first thing on their mind,” Kercheval said.

There have been anti-Trump demonstrations in Paris following the election, including one at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, Del Rosario said.

Manriquez said that one of the most difficult aspects of studying abroad has been leaving behind certain communities at Tufts, specifically Tufts United for Immigrant Justice and the Latino Center.

“[I am] trying to stay as connected to them as I possibly can,” she said.

Manriquez added that she is proud of the work students at Tufts have done so far in fighting to make Tufts a sanctuary campus as well as of the administration’s continued commitment to accepting undocumented students.

Del Castillo said she wanted to push to hold governments accountable for protecting marginalized communities.

“At this time, we … need to use our bodies and voices to show the world that Trump’s rhetoric is harming our communities,” Del Castillo said.

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