Abdulaziz Saeed is from Yemen. He is one of 100 international students in Eastern Mennonite University's conflict transformation program. He says, "Unfortunately while we study how to solve problems and peace we see the opposite happening. That makes us unhappy."
But what makes Saeed happy is the kindness he and other international students have felt since the start of war. He continues, "For now, I don't think we have a concern for safety, but we don't know as we go ahead with what's going on."
JMU's 460 international students have also felt safe so far. Faculty there continues to show support in whatever way they can. Dr. Bijan Saadatmand is the JMU Director of International Studies. He says, "I personally and my staff would like to thank the community for the way in which the Harrisonburg and Rockingham residents are responding and helping the supporting our number of international students at JMU."
But some still feel there is a great deal of uncertainty that lies ahead as the fighting continues. Saeed says, "Many people have different views about the middle east in general so I don't know which direction we are going in terms of safety."
EMU faculty is keeping their eyes peeled, too. Ruth Zimmerman is EMU's C.T.P. Co-Director. She says, "I think if we all felt there was any possibility of their safety being a critical issue here then we definitely would do something." For now, everyone is hoping campus life will stay smooth. Saeed is one of those people. He says, "I hope everything will go fine."
Thanks to tougher immigration requirements, JMU's International Student Program has shrunk by 200 students from last year.