Friday, June 29, 2012

Celebrating International Students at Mizzou (continued)

Timeline Pt. 2 of 2
International students and politics on the national and local stages

1940s-1980s- The U.S. engages in a Cold War with the Soviet Union and its allies. While never formally declaring war, the United States is in armed conflict with one such ally, North Vietnam, from 1955-1975. 

1948- The number of international students at MU is now 147, including 46 Chinese students. The Association of International Educators (NAFSA), a national non-profit professional organization for international educators, is founded.

1940s-1950s- The MU Cosmopolitan Club holds “Nations on Parade,” a bi-annual art exhibit. The Club also starts a student fund to provide aid to international students in need. American universities began desegregating in the 1950s. Black students at home and abroad may now enroll. 

Mohan S. Bawa, an MU Journalism student from India, wrote an article for Mizzou’s Showme magazine in 1956 titled “I Go to the Super Market on an Elephant,” in which he described some of the ethnocentric assumptions that he encountered while attending Mizzou. Still, after detailing several awkward conversations and miscommunications, Bawa concludes that being an international student at Mizzou was certainly not all bad: “We usually go home with the degree we came for, we get to know America and its people, and more often than not we get to meet Americans who treat us with a friendliness and casualness. And this is the treatment we like best of all.” After returning to India, Bawa was hired onto the faculty of Osmania University in Hyderabad, India (quotes from Nov. 1956, Showme, image from Jun. 1956, Showme).
1949- MU’s Inter-American Club, an organization for Latin American Students, is founded. The Republic of China is now ruled by the Communist Party. The U.S.’s Second Red Scare, as well as China’s involvement in the Korean War in 1950, stirs up tensions between the United States and China.

1953- MU’s international population plummets to 75 students. This decrease is almost entirely due to a drop in Chinese students. Out of 75 total international students, only 12 are women.

In the Fall of 1956, Sherman Wu (son of a Chinese politician) was rejected from a Northwestern University fraternity. According to Wu, the justification cited by the fraternity was that his presence “would degrade their house.” While not an MU student, this event spurred national discussions about Asian American discrimination at the college level. Mizzou was no exception—in March, 1957 Mizzou’s Showme humor periodical ran an uncharacteristically serious article about Wu, which featured the above photograph. In the article the Showme writers ask their readers: “Could this happen here?” (Mar. 1957, Showme).
1960- There are now 241 international students at MU. India and Iran make up the largest national groups with 62 and 26, respectively. An orientation program for MU international students titled “Operation International Friendship” is started on campus. Y.M.C.A. sponsors Russian student diplomats to come speak to MU students about their lives behind the iron curtain.

In 1960, during the Cold War, Mizzou’s Y.M.C.A. sponsored 12 Russian student diplomats to come speak to MU students about their lives behind the iron curtain. The goal of the visit was to facilitate collegiate exchange between the two nations. While some MU students expressed doubts, others noted that through interacting “on the human level” they were able greet their Russian guests “simply as friends” (image and quote from 1960 Savitar).

Students are greeted at an international student reception at President Ellis’ house in 1966 (image from 1966 Savitar).
1972- The Multicultural Center is founded on campus.

In 1973 the International Students Association “presented activities including coffee hours emphasizing political issues, Third World films, cooking classes… two annual International Nights and an Outdoor Bazaar” (image from 1973 Savitar).
1975- The Vietnam War ends.

Students congregate outside of a Vietnam booth at an International Bazaar in 1979 (image from 1979 Savitar).

Raad Al-Molla, president of the Organization of Arab Students, participates in MU’s annual International Bazaar (image from 1981 Savitar).
1988- The first Multicultural Extravaganza is held on campus.

1990s- The Cold War ends. The National American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is signed by Canada, Mexico, and the United States. The U.S. enters into the Gulf War, the first in a string of armed and non-armed conflicts between America and nations in the Middle East.

1991- Spearheaded by the Legion of Black Collegians and the Homecoming Steering Committee, the Multicultural Extravaganza is now an official part of MU’s Homecoming lineup.

“Nathalie Pham leads a dance to the tunes of the Band Del Alma at the International Bazaar on Lowry Mall” (image and quote from 1996 Savitar).
2010- There are now 1,948 international students at MU. These students comprise approximately 15 percent of graduate student enrollment and 5 percent of total student enrollment at MU. There are 690,923 international students in the United States. Chinese and Indian students comprise the largest proportions of that total.

*Mizzou statistics are reported here as printed in the Missouri Alumnus and Savitar.

Authored by Niki Eaton, PhD student, Art History and Archaeology


Brawner Bevis, Teresa and Christopher J. Lucas. International Students in American Colleges and Universities: A History. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

Missouri Alumnus, University of Missouri Alumni Association.

Savitar, University of Missouri.