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Back to School: Hanging out with International Students

Last Friday, Klinke Immigration was a sponsor for the 2013 Indian Cultural Festival at Kennesaw State University. It was great to be back on a college campus and to be surrounded by international students. If you’ve read my bio, you’ll know that I started my professional career working with international students.

At the University of Kansas, I helped organize New International Student Orientation for three years. When I moved to Atlanta, I worked at Kaplan running their English program. I also happened to meet my German husband while working with international students, so I certainly have a special place in my heart for this period of my life.

There are several things I miss about working with international students. While they were stressed with studying, they were not stressed about deportation. They are generally happy people who appreciate the challenges of going to school in the United States. The issues that they face aren’t as life-altering as what I see now as an attorney. Also, the students generally wanted to share their culture. There were talent shows, fashion shows, and dinners. It was a glimpse into a country, region, or religion I may never have known of before. And I absolutely loved it.

Working with foreign nationals as their attorney is a very different experience. When a person hires an attorney, it is generally because something major or distressing has happened. There’s often not much joy when someone hires me – a loved one is detained, they are fighting deportation, or they were the victim of a horrible crime.

Also, because I am working with individuals, the sharing of culture is much more subtle. As an attorney, my job is to help navigate the crazy world of U.S. immigration – nothing more or less.

I want cases to end with happiness and smiles, but it can take a long time to get there. The successful conclusion of a case is an amazing feeling. Helping someone remove the fear of deportation, of family separation, and gain legal status in the United States is tremendous. I absolutely love what I do.

Still, though, I’ll admit that it was a lot of fun to celebrate Diwali, watch Hastas and Aaripu (classical Indian dance), and listen to Sur Sangeet (Indian classical songs) last week. So thank you to Dr. Pamila Dembla, the Indian Faculty and Staff Association, and Kennesaw State for allowing me to return the world of international students for a moment. It was a lot of fun!

– Tracie

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