Last Wednesday, I was invited to a meeting with President Hellie, Admission Director Lisa Knodle-Bragiel and associate professor of Japanese Chris Keaveney about their recent visit to China. During the meeting, they discussed people and schools they met and praised the Chinese cities that they visited. One of the cities is my hometown.
I welcome Hellie’s devotion to building a long-term friendship with Chinese schools. But after the short meeting with yummy but unauthentic dumplings and spring rolls, I was lost in thought and uncertainty.
Shaik Ismail, director of International Programs, said, in a news story I wrote before Hellie’s trip to China, he was worried about an increase in Chinese students at Linfield.
With China’s growing economic power, it’s not surprising that there is a trend of Chinese students studying in the United States.
In Linfield’s history, a sudden increase of students from the Middle East occured in the 1970s and from Japan in the 1980s.
As a student from China, I am aware of what happened behind China’s highest growth rate: It’s more than Chinese whiz kids in the Ivy League. It’s more than global top 500 companies and “laowai” (Chinese term for foreigners) in Shanghai and Guangzhou. It’s more than a Chinese dissident winning the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. It’s more complicated than I can explain.
However, as a Linfield student, I can offer advice for the school according to my experiences:
1. Be strict in the admission process and control the percentage of international students in diversity.
I don’t know how different the process of admission for international students would be, but I know a large number of international students from a single country is not good for the long term. Also, we should assume that all international students are satisfied with the standard of being a student at Linfield on the first day they come to Linfield.
2. Promote more connections between English language and culture program classes and foreign language classes. Taking ELCP classes, first year international students easily hang out with their own group, so it’s normal to see some international students from the same country speak their home language in class. On the other hand, intercultural conversation is also good to encourage more Linfield students to study foreign languages.
3. Encourage international students to observe the new milieu consciously and add more practical knowledge about American folkways and everyday life situations into class plan.
For instance, I am still curious why people say “bless you” when someone sneezes and wonder if I should say it when others sneeze. Two years ago, I thought it was because they believe in God. Now I think it might be a way to be friendly in American culture.
OK, before you can’t stand that I chatter too much about “boring” advice, let me finish the last one.
4. Build a bridge between international students and American students. I notice a good thing is that international students from different countries have communicated well and even been good friends in international culture events, such as the Cultural Show. So the next step is to involve the entire campus with its voice.
Why did I say that having more international students from a single country is not good in the long term? It’s extremely easy for a group of foreign students who come from the same country to hang out as a group, like Linfield students who study abroad stick to a group in foreign countries.
I believe the goal of having more international students is more international student communication and diversity on campus instead of each group “interacting” with itself.
Jaffy Xiao/Features editor
Jaffy Xiao can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.