America Calling

A Foreign Student in a Country of Possibility

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Pub Date 14 Sep 2021 | Archive Date 13 Sep 2021

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Description

Growing up in middle-class India, Rajika Bhandari has seen generations of her family look westward, where an American education means status and success. But she resists the lure of America because those who left never return—they all become flies trapped in honey in a land of opportunity. As a young woman, however, she finds herself heading to a US university to study, following her heart and a relationship.

When that relationship ends and she fails in her attempt to move back to India as a foreign-educated woman, she returns to the US and finds herself in a job where the personal is political and professional: she is immersed in the lives of international students who come to America from over 200 countries, the universities that attract them, and the tangled web of immigration that a student must navigate.

An unflinching and insightful narrative that explores the global appeal of a Made in America education that is a bridge to America’s successful past and to its future, America Calling is both a deeply personal story of Bhandari’s search for her place and voice, and an incisive analysis of America’s relationship with the rest of the world through the most powerful tool of diplomacy: education. At a time of growing nationalism, a turning inward, and fear of the “other,” America Calling is ultimately a call to action to keep America’s borders—and minds—open.

Growing up in middle-class India, Rajika Bhandari has seen generations of her family look westward, where an American education means status and success. But she resists the lure of America because...


A Note From the Publisher

Rajika Bhandari: A former international student from India to the US and an Indian American immigrant, Rajika Bhandari is an international higher education expert, a widely published author, and a sought-after speaker on issues of international education, skilled immigrants, and educational and cultural diplomacy. An author of five academic books and one previous nonfiction book, Dr. Bhandari is quoted by dozens of global media outlets each year, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, The Times of India and Quartz, and her writing has appeared in The Guardian, The Chronicle of Higher Education, HuffPost, University World News, Times Higher Education, and The Diplomatic Courier, among others. She lives outside New York City. Website:

Rajika Bhandari: A former international student from India to the US and an Indian American immigrant, Rajika Bhandari is an international higher education expert, a widely published author, and a...


Advance Praise

​"An Indian woman’s wonderfully written, illuminating account... a valuable study of an extremely important area of “soft diplomacy,” dispelling all sorts of easy and false assumptions. Bhandari’s informative memoir is for readers who want to understand how interconnected the world really is. Bhandari is a very talented writer, knowing that in a sea of data there is no better life raft than the telling anecdote." --Kirkus Reviews

"America Calling is a timely and unique addition to immigrant literature. Bhandari weaves an evocative and compelling narrative of the power of education to connect and transform—experience that resonates deeply with me as a first-generation immigrant and college student."

--Reyna Grande, award-winning author of A Dream Called Home and The Distance Between Us

"In these times, when vociferous politicians promote isolation and nativism by vilifying immigrants, including the highly educated, Rajika Bhandari presents a bold counter-narrative, sharing her deeply personal and eye-opening insights into the trials and tribulations of international students in America--and the great value they bring to the entire country."

--Helen Zia, activist and author of Asian American Dreams and The Last Boat out of Shanghai: The Epic Story of the Chinese who Fled Mao's Revolution

“In adding her voice to the immigrant experience, Rajika reminds us that everyone has a story to tell and that everyone's story counts. It is books like this that make America a kinder and wiser nation. Highly recommended for high schools and colleges.”

—Firoozeh Dumas, New York Times best-selling author of Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing up Iranian in America


​“Rajika Bhandari is a voice that urges us with moral clarity and rigorous intelligence to embrace immigrants in higher education. This book tells a personal story and a wider one too, it's a clarion call for the nation's policy makers and educators, to welcome into the nation’s ranks any and all curious minds willing to join in the pursuit of an education.” 

—Maeve Higgins, New York Times columnist, award-winning author of Maeve in America: Essays by a Girl from Somewhere


“In America Calling, Rajika Bhandari captures the confusion and wonder of the international student experience of the sort she, I, and many others have shared. Sometimes funny, often moving, and always thought-provoking, Dr Bhandari’s is a memorable story, and an enjoyable read.”

—Shashi Tharoor, Indian political leader, former Under-Secretary General of the United Nations, and best-selling author of 22 books including India: From Midnight to the Millennium and Beyond


“Rajika presents a very personal and fascinating story of the trials and tribulations of a foreign student coming to the U.S. She explains why the world’s brightest flock to American shores and boost its competitiveness—and why they are now returning home. She is right that if America doesn’t correct the exodus, it will be the greater loser.”

—Vivek Wadhwa, Distinguished Fellow, Harvard Law School, Labor and Worklife Program, best-selling author of The Immigrant Exodus: Why America is losing the global race to capture entrepreneurial talent


“Through this intimate account of her own journey, Rajika Bhandari tells the story of the millions of young people who pursue the dream of an American education, the price they pay, the irreversible transformation they undergo, and the often misunderstood, under-appreciated, yet immense social and economic value they bring about. While she grew up in Delhi and I in Madrid, her story is, in many ways, mine too.”

​—Angel Cabrera, Former President, George Mason University; President, Georgia Tech and a Carnegie Corporation “Great Immigrant”


“Rajika Bhandari offers a roadmap to the many who have come, and the many who will be drawn to America, in search of educational and other life-affirming professional opportunities. It is deeply personal and yet fully illustrative of the many shared experiences of generations that continue to enrich a nation built by and for immigrants.”

—Raju Narisetti, founder of Mint newspaper, and former Managing Editor at The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal


“Seeking an international education takes courage, as Cervantes reminds us. But it’s not a quixotic venture. As Dr Bhandari ‘s story illustrates, the windmills of the mind can be overcome, and the arc of educational exchange bends toward open doors and open minds.”

—Allan E. Goodman, President and CEO, Institute of International Education (IIE)


​"An Indian woman’s wonderfully written, illuminating account... a valuable study of an extremely important area of “soft diplomacy,” dispelling all sorts of easy and false assumptions. Bhandari’s...


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