Stu­dents urged to in­te­grate

Those study­ing over­seas need to busy them­selves with more than just text­books, ex­perts say

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By LI JING

li­jing2009@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

For Chi­nese stu­dents study­ing abroad, com­pe­tence in in­ter­cul­tural com­mu­ni­ca­tion is as im­por­tant as their aca­demic suc­cess, ac­cord­ing to ex­perts.

At the re­cent 2015 Sino-US Ed­u­ca­tion and Ca­reer Fo­rum in Bei­jing, a ses­sion on the lives of Chi­nese stu­dents over­seas drew a crowd of Chi­nese par­ents and stu­dents, as at­ten­dees dis­cussed the dif­fi­cul­ties Chi­nese stu­dents have en­coun­tered dur­ing and af­ter study­ing abroad. Wang Li­hong, who has had a ca­reer in US ed­u­ca­tion for more than a decade, or­ga­nizes the non­profit fo­rum.

As Chi­nese en­ter­prises are en­cour­aged to “go out” and ex­pand their in­vest­ments over­seas, Chi­nese in­vestors are in great need of tal­ent with both Chi­nese and for­eign back­grounds.

“Go out” is a pol­icy ini­ti­ated in 1999 to en­cour­age China’s en­ter­prises to in­vest over­seas.

Liang Tiehang, vice-pres­i­dent of TCL Mul­ti­me­dia, said they have a great short­age of tal­ent.

“Rather than hire a for­eigner, Chi­nese en­ter­prises pre­fer a Chi­nese staff mem­ber to helm its over­seas sec­tion, be­cause it would be more ef­fi­cient in com­mu­ni­ca­tion with head of­fices in China and also in ap­pli­ca­tions of global strate­gies,” Liang said.

But he said it’s dif­fi­cult to find the right peo­ple. The ma­jor prob­lem is with peo­ple who have re­ceived both a Chi­nese and for­eign ed­u­ca­tion have failed to ob­tain the skills nec­es­sary to com­mu­ni­cate with for­eign­ers.

“We found that even though they have re­ceived an ed­u­ca­tion in the US, many have no close Amer­i­can friends and have lan­guage bar­ri­ers in ne­go­ti­a­tions with lo­cal clients. The US is still a strange land for them,” Liang said. “They lack the ca­pa­bil­ity of in­de­pen­dent think­ing. When they en­counter prob­lems abroad, they don’t know how to deal with them on their own.”

The phe­nom­e­non re­sults from the fact that Chi­nese stu­dents study­ing abroad barely in­te­grate into the lo­cal com­mu­nity, ex­perts said.

“A fair num­ber of stu­dents from China — a rapidly grow­ing num­bers and by far the big­gest group of in­ter­na­tional un­der­grad­u­ates on US cam­puses — seem to be more in­ter­ested in in­ter­act­ing with one another than with their Amer­i­can class­mates,” said Que Dengfeng, the founder and CEO of Juesh­eng, a web­site pro­mot­ing study op­por­tu­ni­ties in the US to the Chi­nese mar­ket. “As more Chi­nese are flock­ing to the US, I have seen that Chi­nese stu­dents tend to gather with peo­ple from their home­town, and speak their lo­cal di­alects on the US cam­puses.”

Ac­cord­ing to the 2014 Open Doors Re­port on In­ter­na­tional Ed­u­ca­tional Ex­change, the num­ber of stu­dents from the Chi­nese main­land reached nearly 280,000, up 13 per­cent rise of 2013 and a five­fold on since 2000 — driven by a big in­crease in the num­ber of Chi­nese stu­dents go­ing over­seas for their un­der­grad­u­ate de­grees.

“Many of the stu­dents cited in­ter­nal fac­tors such as lim­ited lan­guage pro­fi­ciency or shy­ness, but they also de­scribed a per­ceived lack of in­ter­est on the part of Amer­i­can stu­dents in other cul­tures,” Que said.

Zhao Xue, who grad­u­ated from the Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia Gould School of Law, said the enor­mous pres­sures on Chi­nese stu­dents in the US, both aca­dem­i­cally and so­cially, also have con­trib­uted to the dis­con­nec­tion.

“It’s very ex­pen­sive to come to the US to pur­sue an un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree. There are of­ten ma­jor ex­pec­ta­tions from fam­ily mem­bers and oth­ers. There’s a lot of pres­sure to suc­ceed and do well,” she said. “And then there are the ex­tra aca­demic chal­lenges in­her­ent in pur­su­ing a de­gree in a non­na­tive lan­guage.”

Zhao said not ev­ery stu­dent would want to come out for mix­ers and “cul­tural cof­fee hours”.

“In ad­di­tion, an aca­demic suc­cess doesn’t prom­ise any so­cial suc­cess,” she said.

Some­times, Amer­i­can class­mates are in­dif­fer­ent to Chi­nese. She re­called an ex­pe­ri­ence when she greeted an Amer­i­can class­mate whom she had ex­ten­sively talked with the night be­fore. The class­mate pre­tended not to know her.

She ad­mit­ted she felt more pres­sure in so­cial life than in in­tel­lec­tual stud­ies when study­ing in the US.

“In­stead of su­per­fi­cial con­tact with a lot of peo­ple, do more mean­ing­ful con­tact with a smaller num­ber, and let them be your am­bas­sadors to the larger stu­dent body,” she sug­gested.

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