Travel Through Time: the history of international students at East Tennessee State University

This section delves into important moments at East Tennessee State University and the Cold War. 

International Students Arrive on Campus

Gloria Yglesias, Bang Kun Suk, and Lulu Toh Suat Lu left their home countries to attend East Tennessee State College. 

  • International students from countries such as Costa Rica, Malaysia, and South Korea had connections with war surplus or a growing communist presence. As France and England began to leave behind their colonies in Asian and African countries, the search for changes in leadership included communism. This new power shift left America nervous about new possible Soviet Union allies.
      • Lulu Toh Suat Lu lived in a colonized Malaya and arrived at East Tennessee State College shortly after Malaya's independence. 
      • Bang Kun Suk lived in South Korea and attended Ewha Womens University, a college founded by an American Methodist missionary. 
      • Gloria Yglesias arrived from Costa Rica in 1946, a few years before the Costa Rican Civil War. 

East Tennessee State College International Student Organization

The international student organization first appeared in the yearbooks in 1940. Over the years, the club diversified and later included the creation of clubs for specific cultures. 

Connections with Communism

A few of the international students had connections with anti-communist beliefs. In other cases, the countries the students originated from were experiencing challenges with communist supporters or the Soviet Union's influence.

  • Minlan Yang's family left for Formosa (Taiwan) when communism took a larger role in China.  
    • Yang's father was "founder, publisher, and manager of an influential newspaper 'Youth's Daily Newspaper,' which was violently anti-communist."
  • Hadi Al-Doan
    • In 1955 America backed a treaty that included Iraq, that was intended to stop the Iraq Israeli war and keep the countries involved in the treaty from making deals with the Soviet Union. However, Iraq in the late 1950s faced a change in power that caused the country to leave the treaty.
  • Jon Justus Havelock
    • Malaysia, a country that up until the late 1950s had an established relationship with Western powers such as England. The country faced a divide into three sections through colonial rule, separating Indian and Chinese immigrants and the Indigenous peoples of Malaysia. The building tensions led to the Malayan Emergency that lasted from 1948 to 1960. A communist party created by Chinese Malaysians began guerrilla warfare to gain independence from the British.

21st Century

The presence of international students at East Tennessee State University has continued to this day. The University has accepted students from all over the world, offering programs to help the students feel at home in East Tennessee. The International Friendship Program connects international students with host families and the International Buccaneer Buddies Program pairs international students with American students. The programs assist students with the transition to a new enviornment and a new culture. This creates a support system to ensure the students are not isolated in an unfamiliar country. 

In the following page, an interactive map presents each international student. Click on map location pins to meet them!

Travel Through Time: the history of international students at East Tennessee State University