US colleges look to better integrate Chinese students

Large population makes it easier to stay secluded, administrators say

Educators are working to help Chinese students integrate into American campus culture, the Associated Press reports.

There were nearly 275,000 international students from China on U.S. college campuses last year—up from less than 62,000 a decade ago—as China's middle class grew and families had more means to send their children abroad. But because Chinese students represent an increasingly large contingent on some campuses, it is easy for them to stick together and speak their native languages, administrators say.

Some professors even say the trend is apparent in the classroom setting, where they say Chinese students participate in discussion less often.

International student enrollment rises again, but trend may not continue

"They like to stay with each other, and it's getting the attention of a lot of our professors," says Yuhang Rong, an assistant vice provost for global affairs at the University of Connecticut (UConn).

The most difficult challenge is the language barrier, says Kevin Zhuang, a UConn student from Shanghai.

"We have some Chinese students who are really outgoing who have a lot of American friends," he says. "We also see people who stay at home all day and just hang out with Chinese and don't want to speak English at all."

In order to promote cultural exchange, institutions are implementing new programs. Public Big Ten universities hold regular summits discussing such initiatives.

The University of Illinois holds "Football 101" clinics and this year started broadcasting play calls in Mandarin that students can listen to via smartphones while at the game.

And before students even leave China for Purdue University, the school holds orientation programs that stress the importance of engaging with others.

In order to prod domestic students to reach out, Purdue offers additional student group funding for events held with international student groups. And Ohio State University offers tours of nearby cities to promote interactions (AP/Wall Street Journal, 9/29).

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