The number of Chinese people studying in the United States has risen rapidly in recent years. They account for more than 30 percent of all international students at the university level. The large numbers are raising new issues for the culture and management of American universities.
CCTV America’s Daniel Ryntjes reports. Follow Daniel Ryntjes on Twitter @danielryntjes
More Chinese students attend universities overseasThe number of Chinese people studying in the United States has risen rapidly in recent years. They account for more than 30 percent of all international students at the university level.
Yubing Shi and Leixin Zhu are graduate students at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. They have been studying in the U.S. for more than five years — both completed their undergraduate degrees here.
“When I first came to the women’s college, which I attended in 2009, I didn’t see a lot of Chinese students on campus. All the American students were very curious, like ‘why do you come to the U.S.?’ Nowadays, I guess they don’t ask such questions because they are used to, there are so many Chinese people around,” Zhu said.
In 2015, the U.S. hosted just under one million international students at colleges and universities, according to the Institute of International Education.
Chinese students are by far the biggest foreign national group on U.S. campuses, posing new challenges to administrators, professors, and the students themselves. The non-profit group Institute of International Education has been closely tracking the progress of foreign students in the U.S. for almost a century.
“I think the challenge has been very large numbers of students who then tend to huddle together a little bit more than if there were just a few on campus. And so the challenge really has been to make sure that they integrate with the rest of the campus rather than just stay among themselves,” Peggy Blumenthal, IIE senior counselor to the president, said.
Yixuan Huang and Han Bao are also public policy graduate students at Georgetown University, but they completed their undergraduate degrees in China, so they are still in the process of adjusting.
“The thing happens to me that when I came here, I feel less passionate about English. I used to love English so much. But the scariness kept me away from it. And also here when I’m stuck with Chinese friends, I don’t use English that much. So I don’t make any progress. So, I’m just struggling I guess,” Bao said.
But they are working hard to integrate now. Professors encourage them to express their own perspectives on issues of public policy. Outside of class, they are also broadening their social circle.
“I believe it’s a good thing for more Chinese students to explore the world and I also think that Chinese students are actually changing the stereotypes now that people may think they are like nerds who never integrate like that. But what I observe is that we are changing stereotypes and we are socializing with people so I would think it’s a good thing that we have a larger Chinese student body here now,” Huang said.
The universities themselves are learning to adapt their support structures to help encourage integration. With the new challenges, come benefits. Chinese students, who pay the full tuition, help universities provide scholarships to U.S. students who couldn’t otherwise afford it.
The number of U.S.-China university partnerships also provide new opportunities for academic collaboration. Many more U.S. students are studying Mandarin, helping to foster understanding of each other’s cultures and ideas.
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