International Educator - March/April 2012 - 59

A Population that Often Remains in a Silo on Campus—

N RECENT YEARS many institutions of higher learning have pursued an Asian recruitment strategy out of an earnest attempt to fulfill well-considered strategic plans to globalize their campuses and curricula, with the long-term goal of preparing U.S. graduates to compete in an interconnected global economy—an economy that will be increasingly dominated by China. To this end, U.S. college officials anticipated vibrant cross-cultural interaction through an array of international festivals and programs, as well as stimulating classroom discussions infused with Chinese perspectives on a spectrum of topics from politics to philosophy to business. On many campuses, this alluring dream has not been realized. Instead, many Chinese seem segregated and alienated from their U.S. peers and professors, creating a situation frustrating to all concerned, including the Chinese students themselves. U.S. universities need to look inward to consider whether their staff, faculty, and student body might directly or indirectly be communicating a less than welcoming message to their Chinese student scholars. A great challenge facing U.S. higher education today is how to engage Chinese undergraduates. The way forward appears to lie in a two-pronged approach of (a) creating a more inclusive academic and social environment for Chinese students, and (b) empowering them to move beyond a near total dependency on their Chinese peers. Achieving the first will require buy-in from senior administration and all key stakeholders, as well as a financial commitment. A number of universities opened the doors to a wave of Chinese undergraduates without first putting in place the essential infrastructure in terms of orientation, support services, and faculty training. As a starting place, initiatives colleges might consider implementing include: n■ Redesigning new student orientation programs to address the kind of adjustment challenges (social, academic, and psychological) that are unique to Chinese students, assigning them U.S. “ambassadors” to help them settle in and find their way around campus during the first few weeks of the first semester. n■ Providing cross-cultural training for academic advisers, office staff, faculty, and students1 n■ Creating living-learning dormitory communities around a Sino-American theme, with U.S. residents carefully selected and trained to ensure a harmonious, welcoming, and interactive atmosphere2 n■ Hiring bilingual (Chinese/English) counselors so that in times of personal crisis, students might articulate their concerns without fear of miscommunication. n■ Tracking student performance in courses outside of their major and, in consultation with the campus intensive English program, establish a recommended sequence for taking distribution requirements based on the language demands of given courses (for example, identifying for first-year students those classes with lighter reading and writing loads and those requiring less prior schema about Western philosophy, literature, history, government, etc.) Such first steps might go a long way toward conveying to arriving Chinese undergraduates that the institution is invested in their success and well-being.
This is excerpted from “Chinese Students in Undergraduate Programs: Understanding and Overcoming the Challenges” by Scott G. Stevens, which is available online at www.nafsa.org/chineseundergrads.

I

THE CHINESE

Endnotes
1

S. Z. Nassim, “The World Is Knocking on Our Doors: Examination of the Experience of First Year Undergraduate International Students and Support Services Programs Available to Them at the University of Delaware,” (Unpublished dissertation, 2011). Ibid, page 121.

2

tions in Global Education Office at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), which hosts large groups of international students from India, China, and Saudi Arabia. “Though their main focus is to achieve their academic goals, we don’t want them to lose

sight of the fact that having new experiences and meeting new people—from the U.S. and other cultures—are things that help shape them and are great things to take home with them. We want them to have a wellrounded experience here, we want them to

have a positive experience here, and that is not just in the classroom, but outside the classroom as well.” Grassi, Harrington, and Briggs emphasize the importance of involving the upper class to international and domestic students in outreach efforts. These student leaders can be effective at generating ideas and at identifying solutions to encouraging greater participation by other international students. “Leveraging student resources is a great way to reach out to students and is a huge step in making connections in the community,” Harrington says. Carola Smith, senior director of international programs at SBCC, also recommends maintaining a balance within the international student populations. Her office works closely with SBCC’s admissions department to limit any one nationality from becoming “disproportionately large,” (or approximately more than a third of the total international population). “If any one group becomes disproportionately large, we think that is not a good learning environment for students from that particular country or the other students,” says Smith, noting that more than 70 nationalities are represented at SBCC. “It may not be a popular approach at all institutions, but we think it’s important in the long run to have a viable program that can be diverse.” Fredrik Lunderquist, a third-year SBCC student from Sweden, believes that international students should embrace the education abroad experience and integrate fully on campus. For him, doing so has developed self-confidence and created a lifetime of happy memories. “Every day, I am so happy that I took this step of moving away from my family and being in charge of myself and growing as a person while learning a new language more fluently and just pursuing my education,” Lunderquist says. “To me, it’s important to get out in society and spread your wings and become someone.” IE
KAREN DOSS BOWMAN is a freelance writer in Bridgewater, Virginia. Her last article for IE was “Easing the Transition” in the March/April 2011 issue.

M AR+APR .12 INTERNATIONAL EDUCATOR

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http://www.nafsa.org/chineseundergrads

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of International Educator - March/April 2012

International Educator - March/April 2012
Contents
From the Editors
In Brief
Voices: University at Buffalo President Satish K. Tripathi
Overcoming Chaos
Degrees of Distinction
Macalester College
Foreign Student Affairs
A View from Out Here
In Focus
Language Supplement
The language of Business
Launching Pad: Community College Programs
Intensive English Language Directory
Intensive Foreign Language Directory
International Educator - March/April 2012 - International Educator - March/April 2012
International Educator - March/April 2012 - Cover2
International Educator - March/April 2012 - Contents
International Educator - March/April 2012 - From the Editors
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 3
International Educator - March/April 2012 - In Brief
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 5
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 6
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 7
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 8
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 9
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 10
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 11
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 12
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 13
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 14
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 15
International Educator - March/April 2012 - Voices: University at Buffalo President Satish K. Tripathi
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 17
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 18
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 19
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 20
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 21
International Educator - March/April 2012 - Overcoming Chaos
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 23
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 24
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 25
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 26
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 27
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 28
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 29
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 30
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 31
International Educator - March/April 2012 - Degrees of Distinction
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 33
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 34
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 35
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 36
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 37
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International Educator - March/April 2012 - 45
International Educator - March/April 2012 - Macalester College
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 47
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 48
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International Educator - March/April 2012 - 50
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 51
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 52
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 53
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 54
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 55
International Educator - March/April 2012 - Foreign Student Affairs
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 57
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 58
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 59
International Educator - March/April 2012 - A View from Out Here
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 61
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 62
International Educator - March/April 2012 - 63
International Educator - March/April 2012 - In Focus
International Educator - March/April 2012 - Cover3
International Educator - March/April 2012 - Cover4
International Educator - March/April 2012 - Language Supplement
International Educator - March/April 2012 - BB2
International Educator - March/April 2012 - SCover1
International Educator - March/April 2012 - SCover2
International Educator - March/April 2012 - The language of Business
International Educator - March/April 2012 - S2
International Educator - March/April 2012 - S3
International Educator - March/April 2012 - S4
International Educator - March/April 2012 - S5
International Educator - March/April 2012 - S6
International Educator - March/April 2012 - S7
International Educator - March/April 2012 - S8
International Educator - March/April 2012 - Launching Pad: Community College Programs
International Educator - March/April 2012 - S10
International Educator - March/April 2012 - S11
International Educator - March/April 2012 - S12
International Educator - March/April 2012 - S13
International Educator - March/April 2012 - Intensive English Language Directory
International Educator - March/April 2012 - S15
International Educator - March/April 2012 - S16
International Educator - March/April 2012 - S17
International Educator - March/April 2012 - Intensive Foreign Language Directory
International Educator - March/April 2012 - S19
International Educator - March/April 2012 - S20
International Educator - March/April 2012 - SCover3
International Educator - March/April 2012 - SCover4
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