Since the pandemic began in early 2020, international students studying in the United States have had to face a choice: confinement in the US at the mercy of an ever-shifting immigration system and away from family and friends, or confinement at home with no guarantee of return, studying remotely in far-flung time zones. Many students decided on the latter.
Starting in October 2020, a group of undergraduate and graduate students at the Rhode Island School of Design’s architecture department have been reflecting on their experience of being unable to study in the United States. Through audio reports recorded in Russia, Barbados, China, Ethiopia, Korea, and Ghana, our Student Visa Review Bureau Chiefs reflected on a school year spent far from the campus they were excited to join. They weighed the pains and pleasures of “studying abroad” from home while interviewing colleagues, friends, and relatives about their hopes and fears for the possibility of a future in the U.S. Their reports explore the ways that students have hacked together studio space, sleep schedules, and academic community in a year of constant uncertainty.
And they point to broader questions: will the current barriers to campus (both physical and political) cause an overdue global rebalancing? Has the balance of global knowledge production begin to tilt?
To end the project, we invite you to a conversation with Menna Agha, Egyptian Nubian Architect and researcher, and coordinating a spatial justice agenda at the Flemish Architecture Institute; Ashraf Salama, Professor of Architecture and Director of Research at the University of Strathclyde, working between Egypt, United States, United Kingdom, the Middle East; and Dan Taeyoung, founding member of Prime Produce (an intentional community for social good), the Soft Surplus community space for making and learning, and the Cybernetics Library (an artist-run library focused on socio-technological systems), and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at GSAPP. The conversation will be moderated by Jess Myers and Lev Bratishenko.
The Student Visa Review was co-curated by Jess Myers (Assistant Professor, RISD) and Lev Bratishenko (Curator Public, CCA), with SURPLUS+ (Shea Fitzpatrick, Lucy Liu, and Dan Taeyoung) and produced by RISD graduate assistants Michael Garel-Martorana, Sanjana Govind Masurkar, and Remi (Wenyue) Qiu.
The Bureau Chiefs: Abena Acheampong Danquah (Ghana), Anastasia Fedotova (Russia), Amber Han (China), Oromia Jula (Ethiopia), Brad Lei (China), Mackenzie Luke (Barbados), Minho Kwon (Korea), and Kaijie (Kevin) Huang (China).
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