Putting restrictions on international students may be costly for U.S.

Mai Hoang

This scenario is almost right out of a typical international relations news story.

A Middle Eastern national gets a visa. With that he enters the United States and spends several years getting educated and trained.

Can you guess what happens next?

It’s not what you think.

The way things are shown on the news, some might think the source of our world problems is that we’ve been letting to many foreign people in our country to get educated. Because after all, they’re only going to use those skills to hurt and terrorize us. In the last few years, international students who wanted a chance to study in the U.S. have had to jump a few extra hurdles, all in the guise of “national security.”

After all those stories, it was a surprise to see this story in the Jan. 26 edition of the Orlando Sentinel:

Alwaleed bin Talal, the grandson of the founding monarch of Saudi Arabia, came to the U.S. to get a degree at Menlo College in California. He later got a master’s degree at Syracuse University.

So what does he do with his newfound skills he gained in the U.S? No, he doesn’t work with bin Laden.

He helps the company that produced “The most magical place on earth” – Disney.

After he graduated from Syracuse, he went back to Saudi Arabia and started an investing career. He has put stakes in several companies. His investments have helped him earn enough money – $18 billion – to make him the fifth richest man in the world, according to Forbes Magazine.

A few years ago, Disney was losing money fast on Euro Disney, the company’s European tourist attraction in Paris. This man decided to put in $300 million to help keep Euro Disney afloat.

Now Euro Disney is in trouble again, and they’re trying to get help from the best man they know: Alwaleed bin Talal.

Of course, he’s hardly considered a saint in some circles. New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani refused to accept a $10 million donation for the victims of Sept. 11 because bin Talal said that U.S. policy in the Middle East was partly to blame for the attacks.

Regardless of his controversial nature, one can’t discount his contribution to the business world. Disney chairman Michael Eisner certainly didn’t.

“He knew what he was doing,” Eisner said of the prince in the Orlando Sentinel story. “He’s smart.”

There are certainly many smart people that have been unable to jump through hoops to get educated in our country. It is a shame that the fear of the non-politically correct and the fear of people who are different from us has blinded us from seeing what some people from the Middle East are trying to do. One would only have to look at this campus to see that not everyone who gets an education in the United States is trying to to bring our country into ruins. Some are actually helping our country.

There are several international scholars at Western conducting innovative research and participating in partnerships with community organizations.

Others move on and become professors to shape a young person’s future.

Others, like Alwaleed, are going to help our global economy.

Yes, those who came to the U.S. and committed an act like Sept. 11 are wrong. But if we keep international students from getting an education so we can keep the terrorists out, we might end up keeping out the people that could ultimately help us.

Mai Hoang is a senior print journalism and religious studies major from Louisville.

This commentary does not reflect the views of the Herald, Western or its administration.