My sincere greetings Fr. Jenkins,
I am an international graduate in this prestigious university. Due to the nature of my VISA status we are always advised not to engage in social or political debates in our hosting nation. But then Fr Jenkins, am afraid because my family will soon be split up due to circumstances apparently beyond my control. My family is part and parcel of my being.
To back up a little bit, I joined this school in the fall of 2015; two weeks after marrying my beautiful wife back home. (For the sake of our privacy I will leave out our names and country of origin). We hardly had a honeymoon because I had to be in school early in the Fall. Secondly I had never been to this side of the US, so I had to figure out what life is like before inviting her here. Needless to say, these were the loneliest and most trying moments for a young recently married couple.
Fortunately, Notre Dame offers affordable family friendly housing for married graduate students. I duly applied for a housing unit hence I have been living in the University Village for while with my wife (who later joined me). Dear Fr. we also have a baby who has brought immeasurable joy to our family. In this small community, nothing is cherished as a baby; indeed when a new baby comes into the world, an email is sent out and we are all happy to sign up to provide meals to the family. Ours is a community; one family’s concern is a concern for all.
In fact, we have a blog “Village Barter board” where anyone in need of help can ask for it. Yes, sometimes it is as small as a diaper for the baby or as critical as transport to the emergency room. For husbands, we know that our wives shall enjoy the company of each other through various community activities like cooking classes.
To my dismay Father, our cherished home will soon be no more! This sends chills to my spine each time I think of it. True, there are options off campus.
But then father, my baby alone consumes a considerable chunk of the stipend I receive (and we have no regrets for this). Look Fr. Jenkins, the VISA status of my wife (F2 VISA) does not permit her to engage any kind of employment in the US. Even me, the F1 VISA restricts me to only academic work otherwise I would work myself out to rent a 2-bedroom apartment anywhere in South Bend. Therefore, I am not a lazy guy seeking out welfare from the University. In a nutshell, Fr. Jenkins, off campus housing will likely be out of reach for a family of three that has to pay all the bills from the university stipend. Later on, the sense of community the village offers seems to be irreplaceable.
This is what am planning to do Fr Jenkins when the Village is demolished without any affordable family friendly housing options. I will send my wife and little baby back home. I will then have no option other than bearing another lonely 3-4 years in a shared apartment somewhere in South Bend. And Father this might not be my fate alone, but the fate of several married international graduate student unless the Village is saved. Father Jenkins, what would Jesus do if He were the president of a prestigious Catholic school that Notre Dame is?
——–CONCERNED MARRIED INTERNATIONAL GRADUATE STUDENT