Letter From San Bernardino

The picture below was taken on Friday in the student union at the Cal State University campus in San Bernardino (CSUSB). The university president, Dr. Tomas Morales, had invited me to speak at a symposium that day on International Education.  He and many others during the day expressed that what happened on Wednesday made the need for international education and exchange even more important.  So far six of the school’s Alumni have died as a result of the terrorism.

Fortunately, Tracy’s sister was not one of them. Tracy is the student in the picture with us and her sister was in a building across the street from the county office building that was attacked.  She said that while she has not yet had the chance to study abroad, she wanted to come to the symposium to show her school spirit and, like others, make sure that CSUSB stood up for greater engagement in the world and not more isolationism.  So she wore her hoodie. 

My remarks at CSUSB were much less important than the fact that the University went ahead with the symposium, that among the many students and professors who came were those faithful to Islam, and that we all prayed in our own ways when we started and, later, had lunch together.   Many in our nation will remember for a long time where we were last Wednesday.  There was no place I would have rather been on Friday.  It, too, is a day I will not soon forget.

While I was in San Bernardino, two of my colleagues, Daniel Obst, Deputy Vice President of International Partnerships in Higher Education and Nikki Davis, Program Manager, were attending a workshop at UC Davis where, alongside faculty and experts in the fields of international education and human rights, they worked to build a framework for supporting refugee and displaced students in their pursuit of higher education. Recognizing the vital role that institutions of higher learning play in promoting peace and prosperity, the workshop highlighted the expertise and capacity already existing within the higher education community which can be utilized in times of crisis to support the those who are most vulnerable.