International Students See Democracy in Action

Northeastern freshmen Yang Gao, Zhang Li and Zifan Zhao (left to right), all international students from China, interviewed voters on Tuesday to learn first-hand about the American political process.

By Sierra Brown
Boston University News Service 

Amid a line of bored and harried-looking faces waiting to vote this afternoon, three Northeastern University students looked around as they chatted and jotted down notes.

The trio, freshmen from China, were there for a homework assignment for their Communicating on Campus class. Their professor wanted them to witness the American political system in action. By design, the class exposes international students to American politics and fosters debate, the students said as they interviewed voters leaving the polls at Symphony Plaza West on Massachusetts Avenue.

Asked how they liked the class, Yang Gao said abruptly, “I don’t.”

His classmate, Zifan Zhao, said that American politics and democracy in general seemed “very complicated” to him. “There is no debate in China,” he said.

“Every American is allowed to vote?” wondered Zhang Li. Looking around at the dozen or so people waiting in line to vote, he said he thought more people ought to be there.

So did his peers. “Every American citizen should vote,” Zhao said. He shrugged. “Maybe they are still at work.”


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