Memories of Awe Episode 18

Liz had remembered a phrase that Professor McKown had used and wanted to explore it further. He had said that “administrators were class conscious but individual blind”. She had seen from her own experience how administrators were so rule bound that they ignored the uniqueness of worthy cases where rules may need to be adjusted.

LJ: You described yourself as being compliance challenged, and I admire that. It seems that your unwillingness to see rules as absolutes has led to awe memories. Would you agree with that and does a particular memory of awe come to mind where a rule led to what you call moral beauty?

KMcK:  I do agree. As you may know, I have a number of international students in my classes. The way our government treats them is cruel and unusual in my opinion.

Abdul and his wife came to America from Libya to pursue STEM degrees. While in the United States, they had a son. Abdul was older than traditional students and already had extensive industrial experience. He was due to graduate with a great academic record.

He had received a notification that his student visa had expired and that he would need to return home and reapply to have his visa renewed. I don’t understand these student visa issues, but he found no one at the university to help him.

Abdul was especially concerned about the safety of his family if he returned home, given relations between the United States and Libya. His son was a very lively, outgoing child who was essentially American. He spoke Arabic and English, but the problem was that he couldn’t control which language he used. That was what terrified Abdul. Would his son be safe if he began speaking English while in Libya?

LJ: Couldn’t his son stay here while Abdul and his wife returned home? I believe that the son was a citizen since he was born here.

KMcK:  He could have, but there was no guarantee that Abdul and his wife would be allowed to return.

LJ: Were they able to return?

KMcK:  Thankfully they came back, but that summer was a traumatic experience for their son. He was essentially quarantined. Abdul and his wife got their degrees, but that meant they could no longer stay in the U.S.

I urged Abdul to pursue asylum in America. He was reluctant to do so, but finally decided it was his best option. The change in political climate in the United States made asylum a long-shot. Our Congressional representatives, who speak about the need to retain our best and brightest in state, provided no help nor did our state government or university leadership.

Think of the loss to America, an experienced math educator, a highly diligent engineering professional, and a young boy with unlimited potential.

LJ: I’m beginning to see now why you made the comment about being class conscious but individual blind. But please tell me that things worked out ok.

KMcK:  They did. Abdul and his family are now citizens of Canada and are living the life they had when they thought about coming to the U.S.

* * *

“Breaking rules isn’t bad when what you’re doing is more important than the rule itself.” – Kim Harrison (author)

How To Use

Useful guides for incorporating messages into discussion.