Thursday, April 17, 2014

Cultural Concerns and Suggestions on Advising East Asian International Students

On April 10, 2014 the Multicultural & International Student Program Office (MISPO) and the Asian Center hosted a workshop – “Cultural Concerns and Suggestions on Advising East Asian International Students.” 

More and more international students come to U.S. to study in recent year.  There are almost a million international students who are now studying in U.S. and around 43% of the international students are from East Asia, according to SEVP’s (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) General Summary Quarterly Review.  There are always questions and concerns about this large population of students.  People in U.S. are always thinking and asking - How do we better communicate with them?  How do we make friends with them?  How can we understand them better? 

In the workshop, Dr. Qiu Ying talked about Chinese culture which has the large influence to the East Asian culture.  There are some main points about the Chinese culture.

1. Hard work as a symbol of achievement.

2. Collectivism (集体主义, jítǐ zhǔyì) - The Chinese are a collective society with a need for group affiliation, whether to their family, school, work group, or country.

3. Guanxi (关系, guānxì) – Guanxi describes the basic dynamic in personalized networks of influence, and is a central idea in Chinese society (Wikipedia). 

4. Face (面子, miànzi) – It is hard to find a word in English to explain this.  There are several definitions in Wikipedia.  It shows a person’s social status.  It is something that is emotionally invested, and that can be lost, maintained, or enhanced. 

5. Harmony (, héxié)

6. Thriftiness (节俭, jiéjiǎn)–in average East Asian people, especially those in older generations, save around 30% - 40% of their salaries per month. 

7. Education as a tool of social promotion.

In East Asia culture, the family comes first, then the individual.  It emphasizes the parents’ power.  You may hear people from East Asia talk a lot of their families’ concern or follow whatever their parents’ suggestions.  These interactions do not mean they are undeveloped.  The power distance is much higher in East Asia culture than Western culture.  This sometimes makes it hard for East Asian people to make decisions on their own, because they are taught to follow authority and respect their parents’ input. 

OtW-Buch.Druck 02.05.2007 16:34 Uhr Page 12, Yang Liu
Also, the differences of the communication style and power distance between East Asian culture and Western culture sometimes cause difficulties between people.  Compared to Western culture’s straightforward communication style, East Asia people are indirect, especially when they are trying to ask for favor. 

OtW-Buch.Druck 02.05.2007 16:34 Uhr Page 12, Yang Liu

The workshop was very successful.  Hopefully you also will learn more about East Asia Culture. If you are interested, try to make friends with our international students, take a class or join MISPO programs.



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