24 Short Stories of International Students’ Experiences with the G7 + 1 Labor Laws — Ch. 2 The Corrective Preamble

Keep yourself simple, good, pure, serious, and unassuming; the friend of justice and godliness; kindly, affectionate, and resolute in your devotion to duty. — Marcus Aurelius

From the feedback I received from chapter 1 of this article series, I erred to adhere to Cicero’s tenet, when he said:

“For every systematic development of any subject ought, to begin with, a definition, so that everyone may understand what the discussion is about.”

I erroneously assumed that the terms in the title of the article series were equally understood by all my dear readers, and to them, I offer my sincere apologies. I know the title ‘The Preamble’ of this chapter two, is a failed attempt on my part to be a surrealist. Yet, I am confident I will find forgiveness with my readers.

Also, while writing this part of the series I realized, I erred in the article series title, by over-generalizing all the G20 Countries, to express my meaning, which will be revealed and righted shortly. This leads me to share with you that over 6 months ago, when I took sharing my thoughts with you seriously, diligently, and consistently, I have come to learn more from you, my readers, and you have illuminated my ignorance. And for that, I say thank you!

When one teaches, two learn’, is an inspirational quote — Robert Heinlein

A case in point is the image below sent to me by one of my dear readers, who corrected me on what the GDPR law covers and does not cover.

Now, in this chapter of the article series we will cover the following:

  1. What are the G20 Countries?
  2. Meet the G7 + 1 Nations.
  3. What it Means to international students to study in G7 + 1 Nation.
  4. Evidence why these laws should be changed
  5. The Corrective Invite

What are the G20 Countries

Fully known as the Group of Twenty (G20), this is the group of the world’s most important international forum for global economic cooperation. These countries include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico Republic of Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, and the European Union.

It’s is recorded that the G20 has over 80% of the world’s economy, 70% of the global trade, and about two-thirds of the world’s population. Annually, it holds a summit, where finance ministers and heads of states of member countries gather, to hold discussions and reach consensus on international economic trade issues. Though it was established in 1999, the first meeting was held in 2008, to resolve the global financial crisis.

With that said, it is important to also explain the difference in the economic status of each of the member states. I will classify these economies using the World Bank’s Country classification, which ranges from low-income, lower-middle-income, upper-middle-income, and high-income economies.

However, for the purpose of this article, I will restrict the classification into two major classifications, which are:

1. Low-income-economies, or Low-Income Countries, LICs with income below $12,000.

2. High-income economies, or High-Income Countries, HICs with income above $12,500.

The table below provides a detailed view of this classification:

And, for if you like numbers and stats, the pie chart below is for you:

However, when we place the data in the table above on the world map, it will give you a vivid description of this distribution on the global landscape:

Yet, the above images give very little understanding of the subject matter of this article. So, I had to probe further to uncover the reasons behind the blue nations and red nations

Meet the G7 + 1 region

In probing further into the 11 countries that are High-Income countries in the G20 countries, I found that eight of the eleven have something in common and three have nothing in common with the three. These three are Argentina, Australia, and China. Well if you follow geopolitics you will know the remaining eight are, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the EU region. Thus, meet the G7 nations + 1 region.

I call them the G7 + 1 region because, it used to be called the G8, at its inception in 1975, which was a casual meeting of the world’s most advanced industrial and economic nations, whose decisions shape the realities of every corner of the globe. Thus, the direction chosen by these nations directly impacts all international organizations and institutions. However, it is important to add that the decisions taken by these nations are not legally binding, but commands global political impact.

Now, let’s review the table above to classify the G20 nations that are part of the G7 + 1 nations and the one, not part, by using the table below:

And, Tada! Now, let’s see how the above distribution is divided on a pie chart:

Okay, the blue is having less space in this pie chart. But, again how will this look on the world map?

In the image above, you can see why I erred in the title of this article series about the G20 Labor Laws when it should have been the G7 + 1 Labor Laws. With the above image, I reckon how easy it is to explain the division of the blue nations to the red, and grey nations, by pointing and blaming the era of colonialism. Where you won’t be remiss if this is your first reaction.

Allow me to add that the EU’s plus one status is back by the image below from Eurostat:

It is important I clearly state that this is article is not another article to distill the several causes and effects of the past. But, rather a solution-seeking attempt to expose the inhumane effects of the behavior of the labor market in the G7 + 1 Labor Laws, with the hope that this will impact the labor lawmakers in these nations to consider changing these laws to create a more just and equitable employment for all international students, from the red and grey shaded nations.

So, yes, I am directly and clearly asking you, to suspend pointing fingers, and resist the blame game trappings of analyzing 20th-century history. Because, I am a firm believer that a just and equitable condition for humans in whatever nation they find themselves in can only be achieved when we get beyond the easy trappings of a ‘blame game’, and transcend to the worthy challenge of co-creating the desired just and equitable condition.

To the scholars, who are geopolitically, you will be quick to point out and say “Yes, Fisayo you had to analyze the G20 countries, only to map out the 1% of the world that controls the rest of the world.” Or you are familiar with Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaufer’s works, and you are quick to categorize the blue part of the world map above as the global north and classify the red and gray shaded nations as the global south. Or perhaps, you prefer to use the United Nations parlance, and call the blue shaded countries as G7, and the red and gray shaded countries as the majority of nations that make up the G33, G77, G90, and Non-Aligned Movement nations.

Whatever classification you view the blue shaded nation, and the red and gray shaded nations, you are right. However, as previously mentioned, this is not a finger-pointing article, and it is not the scope of this article to revise or analyzed the historic reasons why red and gray shaded nations are more than the blue shaded nations.

Again, to be clear, the purpose behind this article series is the hope that the lawmakers of the labor laws in the blue shaded nations will be aware of how these laws encourage toxic behavior, from the key agents in these nations’ labor markets, towards international students, who invest fortunes to be educated in these nations.

But before I go on, allow me to give you a broad brushstroke view of what it means to an African studying in a G7 Country, which will be from my view and experience, and from my conversations with several friends back home who have studied in one of the above G7 + 1 nations.

What it Means to international students to study in G7 + 1 Nation

It’s important we categorize the types of African international students who study in the G7 + 1 countries. I believe this will give you, my dear reader an un-biased view of why and how the behavior and actions of African international students in these countries contribute to the toxic behavior that the labor market of these countries exhibit towards their humanity and self-worth.

The African Context from Experience

While it is common knowledge in the G7 + 1 nation that every African international student is from a wealthy background, allow me to burst that myth, and say not necessarily. There are four types of international students I have come across.

1. The international student on a private scholarship, whose major financial burden to study abroad was to prove that he or she can cover the travel and living expenses.

2. The international student on a government scholarship. This student relies on the government to cover his or her travel, necessities, and sometimes discretionary expenses while abroad.

3. The international student from a middle-class background, which is where I fall into. Usually, this kind of student can rely on funding from home to cover his or basic necessity, for a certain period.

4. The international student from a blue-blood or high-income background. This type of student begins to think of employment only after graduation. This student receives funds for both their necessities and discretionary spending.

However, apart from the international student in type 4, there is a common perspective held by student type 1, 2, and 3, which is “do whatever it takes to make money while studying. Your human dignity and self-worth don’t matter, you are abroad where the pay of being engaged in undignified employment, is worth more than the pay of CEOs back home.”

Also, allow me to add that as an African in my primary school education, when I learned my idioms, I was taught that “half a bread is better than none.” However, over a decade ago, I realized that the original version from Hesiod’s “Work and Days” is:

“Half is greater than the whole”

Before you read further, take a minute, to pause and consider the difference in the actions and beliefs of being raised, by the African variant of the saying, and being raised by the original Hesiod’s version.

For me, I believe the African variant forces submissive contentment with deplorable conditions because it instills the belief that there is no better option available. While the original version will foster a sense of generosity contentment because whenever you choose a half over a whole, it’s from a generous place.

Coupled, with this submissive contentment, we Nigerians, and I am qualified to say most Africans grow up to accept that to leave or travel out of Africa, is equivalent to leaving hell or a vacation from hell. And, if we ever return to Africa, we should return to throw that mansion opening party, and during this party we make it rain in as rappers do in music videos.

Now, you know why we Africans bear impossible employment conditions in these countries. Going back home without completing that mansion, we are considered as a failure by family members and our community — I am sure you know this.

From my experience, the above two reasons, are known by employers in these nations’ labor markets about Africans in general, hence why the labor markets exhibit these toxic behaviors, because they know an African international student will bear inhumane and undignified hardships, to remain in any of these nations, and bear it we do.

The reason previous generations before me, and my fellow millennials have not aired, or only lightly touched on this matter, I like to think it is because this happens to be the most successful and used model in Africa, which is used to escape into the high-middle class social status. So it has become an acceptable model.

But, in the wake of this new decade, and in light of the global outcry to build more equitable systems, I Fisayo Olajide, have drawn a line in the sand and say these nations’ labor market toxic behaviors against international students regardless of the continent they come from, is no longer acceptable.

The Asian context from conversations

Because we millennials are now beyond practicing making babies. We now raise the future leaders, and if we do not take a stand no matter how little to rewrite the accepted success model, we too will send our kids to any of these G7 + 1 nations for a better education. I don’t know about you, but I would not want my kids to settle for a half, because we did not create a whole for them.

But, hold up! is it just African international students whose beliefs encourage the toxic behavior from these labor markets? According to OECD, it is recorded Asians make up over 50% of international students worldwide.

From an open-minded conversation I had with one of my close Asian friends — over some homemade Asian cuisine — she explained to me that most Asians will do thrice extra in any job that has a resemblance of white-collar for the least, to stay in the good books of their employer, because Asians prefer the freedom they feel in these nations than they do back in Asia.

She further, explains why some Asian international students, delay completing their studies, which gives them an official reason to have their student visas extended.

While I do not sit in judgment of anyone’s chosen path for his or her pursuit of happiness. Yet, I like to exercise my rights of curiosity and ask “In the long term, who benefits more, you that paid extra and bore inhumane and unjust employment conditions, so you can continue to enjoy the benefits in a G7 + 1 nation, or the G7 + 1 nations’ citizens, whose economy continues to develop from your fees, and whose labor market rewards you unjustly for your working hours?” Honestly, I am open to your reasoning of choice on this one.

Phew! Those were heavy paragraphs. Are you still with me? I am glad that you are, thanks!

Now, let’s get back to co-creating a probable solution to end the above described vicious cycles.

Evidence why these laws should be changed

For that, let’s first visit 2017, when the Ministers of Labor and Employment of the G7 countries + 1, gathered to deliberate on the Future of Work. The excerpts below are key to the issue at hand:

i. For a Better Future of Work: Pathways for Action” was “a strong statement of Ministers’ intent to boost the quality and quantity of jobs and foster inclusive labor markets and societies.”

ii. Promoting inclusivity in innovation and the future of work through close cooperation and dialogue among policy-makers, social partners, the private sector, education and training providers, innovation analysts, and other relevant actors.

iii. The Ministerial Declaration builds on the “G7 People-Centered Action Plan on Innovation, Skills, and Labor” and the “G7 Roadmap for a Gender-Responsive Economic Environment” adopted at the Taormina G7 Summit in May. The Declaration highlights three main areas:

A. Promoting skills and fostering labor rights

B. Labor, employment policies and social protection policies

C. Fostering a multi-stakeholder approach

It can then be concluded that while the lawmakers of these nations labor markets do strive to create a more equitable working condition for all agents in their labor markets, from my experience, I believe these labor policies were not fully designed with the benefits that international students bring to these countries, which include but not limited to contributing a considerable percentage to their GDPs, and soft power.

Allow me to state that I do not mean to connote in the above paragraph that these G7 + 1 nations’ labor laws should grant these international students the same labor rights that citizens of these nations enjoy. That’s not what I advocate, and I agree with Cicero in his “On Dutieswhen he said:

“It may not be right, of course, for one who is not a citizen to exercise the rights and privileges of citizenship;”

Yet, in the same paragraph of where the above quote is taken from, Cicero also asserts that:

“to debar foreigners from enjoying the advantages of the city is altogether contrary to the laws of humanity.”

Where the advantage here is more just and equitable labor laws in these nations.

My Open Invitation to the Brave 22 International students

I am of the opinion that as Biden is now the president of the US, the cry and actions of these nations towards making the world a more equitable and just place to study, work and live in will only get louder and increase.

I also made an error in my invite video to the required brave 22 International students:

Thus, I like three brave past or present international students that have studied in each of the G7 + 1 nations, and who come from the grey or red shaded continents or countries the map below, to share their stories with me, which will equal 24 stories, 24 experiences, and 24 beliefs that I believe will influence the lawmakers of these nations to improve the labor laws in these nations, that will no longer demean the human dignity and self-worth of the next generation of international students.

Oliva shared hers in chapter one of this article series, I will share my experience too, hence why this article series will need 22 more brave international students.

And, together let’s add our ten cents in making our world a more just and equitable place to study, work and live in for us, and the future generation.

To join me, kindly send me an email at fisayo@fisayoolajide.eu. See you in two weeks.

By the way, in my article, Climate Change vs SDGs awareness, I left a link for you to test your Climate Change and SDGs awareness, here’s the direct link to the form. I will appreciate your input on the form. Thanks in advance.

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.

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