Brexit: How Should International Students Respond?
“Regardless of how you feel about Brexit, we should now strive to build a better, more open and understanding society.”
I had to suddenly return to Hong Kong last month to attend to my dad, who was admitted to the hospital twice in one week. Thankfully he is well again and has been discharged.
A week after I returned to Manchester, I participated in the EU referendum as one of the citizens from the commonwealth. The next morning, Britain and other countries in the world were shocked by the result.
At the time of writing this blog, Nice, a southern French city, is under attack during Bastille Day celebrations. We live in a world of much hatred, fear and hostility. In the face of these troubles I can’t help but think that we have been tempted to see the EU referendum as a tool to vote our way to solutions. However, staying in or leaving the EU will not resolve the escalating issues in society.
So, what can we do? How should I, an international student in the UK, and other students like me respond?
Firstly, I believe we should ‘live like a local’. Many of us see ourselves as visitors wherever we stay. As visitors, we free ourselves from the problems that the locals face. “Pollution? Not my problem” we say. With this attitude, we do not consider the consequences of our actions/inactions. We should live and think like a local and do things that bring the most benefits to our communities.
Secondly, we need to start caring for our society. People seem to spend hours watching Euro 2016, but never wanted to spend 10 minutes to read the news. If we want to live peacefully and happily, the very first thing to do is to understand what is going on around us. When you care about somebody you spend time with them to know what they are going through. In the same way, if we care about our society we should take time to understand what’s going on around us.
Finally, have serious conversations with others. In Britain, we are so good at talking about the weather, the countryside, and football games. What about our ideas of life and death, our needs for love and care, our worries about poverty and racism? We are all humans. A society can only fight against terrorism and toxic ideas if we start spreading stronger ideas – solidarity, love and care.