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Chinese students in the US annoyed by being seen as "spies"   [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2019-7-13 13:59:44 |Display all floors
(People's Daily Online) “Just stop speaking Chinese!” A white girl said, irritated, when my friends and I were chatting in an elevator with all our classmates inside, during a summer program at Columbia University. I was very upset, but I stopped talking. Neither did any of my friends say another word in the elevator. I wanted to stand up for myself, but I just didn’t want things to get more complicated.

Things like this have become increasingly common on campuses in America. With the growing economy of China, more and more Chinese families are sending their children for education abroad, and the U.S. is one of the major destination countries. In fact, according to the statistics from the Migration Policy Institute, more than 32% of all international students enrolled in U.S. universities in the academic year of 2016-17 were from China, and the number keeps growing.

It is not difficult to identify Chinese students on campus. With a strong sense of belonging to the community of Chinese students in the U.S., it is easier for us to hang out with people that we identify with, and naturally, we speak our own language to communicate. Therefore, we often travel in packs.

With the trend of more Chinese students flowing into the U.S., Chinese faces are seen in almost all the universities in the U.S., yet some of the hosts are welcoming their guests in a not so friendly manner.

About two month ago, there was an email incident at Duke University in which a professor wrote an email asking Chinese students to speak English all the time. An even worse discrimination towards Chinese students happened at New York University (NYU), according to several victim students.

At around the same that the incident at Duke happened, an article about Professor Sandra Holtzman from the School of Professional Studies (SPS) at NYU discriminating against Chinese students went viral on Chinese social media. According to evidence presented in the article, the professor discriminated the accent, grammar, and language skills of Chinese students, while treating and grading Chinese students differently in comparison to other students.

Twenty-six NYU students from China who have taken classes with the professor wrote a report to the NYU Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO). The result they got back from OEO was that “the evidence presented does not support the finding of a violation of the University’s Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy.” People were furious when they read about this, leaving angry comments under the comment section, mostly because the university didn’t do anything to protect the students’ rights, even when they stood up for themselves due to being treated unfairly.

Mimo Yan, a junior from NYU who also went to high school in the U.S., has spent a long time as an international student here. She is surprised that such serious discrimination happened at NYU, which is a school known to support diversity.

She said that this kind of “obvious and conscious” discrimination does not happen constantly. “It is always some little thing that makes you uncomfortable. I don’t know if they just don’t know or they are doing it on purpose.”

Politics is also an important but very sensitive matter to Chinese students. She recounts seeing in different places on campus the representation of Hong Kong and Taiwan as countries instead of as a part of China.

Furthermore, Chinese international students face another challenge, which is being accused as spying for their government. According to Politico, U.S. President Donald Trump commented at a dinner with executives and senior White House staff in August 2018 that “an unnamed country that the attendee said was clearly China, ‘almost every student that comes over to this country is a spy.’”

Ling Tang, a politics major student at NYU who is from Jiangxi, China, commented on this matter.

“It is just so ridiculous,” said Tang, “if it is what he truly believes, then I don’t even know what to say.”

But the U.S. president isn’t alone in this portrayal. More than a year ago, The New York Times covered an event that happened on the campus of UC San Diego, which Chinese students protested when the school invited Dalai Lama to deliver a speech. The article’s headline? “On Campuses Far from China, Still Under Beijing’s Watchful Eye.” Many Chinese students just laughed when talking about this.

“How is it possible that such a huge number of us are all spies for the government? And what are we spying on here exactly? I just don’t see how protesting against an offensive event like this one would make us spies,” Tang said.

Chinese students say that they should serve as a bond between the two countries to promote China-U.S. relations, however, with intentional and hopefully unintentional mishaps happening here in the U.S., things have been “too political and too complicated,” according to Tang.

Regarding things like this, Yan commented that “at first I would become really angry. But after several times I just got used to it. Everyone did. There’s nothing much you can do about it.” Many students feel that there is not much one can do. And they are right.

“These things will not disappear overnight,” Yan said.

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Post time 2019-7-13 17:15:38 |Display all floors
" I just don’t see how protesting against an offensive event like this one would make us spies,”

What is "just" about what you are saying ? It may be offensive to you but that doesn't mean that this invitation is not welcome by the campus and its cohort that you attend. You admit that you have the freedom to attend protests against such visits. Such protests would not be countenanced in China, except those very recent ones where millions of students and other citizens have voiced their strong opposition towards BJ. Maybe if you stop travelling "in packs" and speak the lingua franca of where you are - English, not Chinese - then you might be to be regarded in a more friendly way by other students and learn more about American and other cultures, which is surely one of the hidden curriculum virtues of being in another country. If you are so upset by "some little thing that makes you uncomfortable" why don't you try to grow up a little and realise that there are tougher things in life than coming from a rich Chinese family to study in academia in USA. As the saying goes, when in Rome do as the Romans do, don't try to be so precious about the perfect motherland you have freely chosen to leave behind for several years.

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Post time 2019-7-14 00:00:40 |Display all floors
Chinese students in the US annoyed by being seen as "spies"


What is the number one expression that is said to foreigners in China?
Answer: "We don't like spies in China."

This expression is said even more, by officials, than "When in Rome ..."

As a matter of fact, it was the very first thing said to me by the headmaster, when I arrived at my new school, when I started teaching in China. She didn't say "Hello". She didn't say "Welcome". She said, "We don't like spies in China". That statement, right there, set the undertone for what my next 11 years were going to be like.

The students in the article seem to be "shocked" that anyone would consider them to be spies. The fact is ... EVERY nation has a certain level of paranoia and xenophobia regarding foreign nationals. Some of it is open, and some is very subtle, but it's still there.
Stupid people are like Glowsticks. You want to snap them in half and shake the crap out of them until they see the light.
I love sarcasm. It's like punching someone in the head ... only with words

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Post time 2019-7-14 11:20:39 |Display all floors
There's little tolerance in the US these days for non-native English speakers conversing in their native tongue in public.  It's sad, but a reality and a trend with some groups of people.  I know it's nobody's business what your private conversation is, but in public you can expect some flak at some time.  My wife is a Chinese national and doesn't speak any English.  On the 3 occasions over the past 15 years we've visited the US no one has ever confronted or challenged us about conversing in Chinese in public (restaurants, malls, and etc.).  We were fortunate in that way, although I did expect it.
You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. — Bob Dylan

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Post time 2019-7-14 12:13:20 |Display all floors
Yes, Chinese overseas students gather in packs and speak their national language Putonghua; and they don't know why their English is so poor!

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Post time 2019-7-14 15:59:31 |Display all floors
it is bad manners for these colleges not to offer buddy service to Chinese students.

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Post time 2019-7-14 23:39:33 |Display all floors
mbursian Post time: 2019-7-14 11:20
There's little tolerance in the US these days for non-native English speakers conversing in their na ...
On the 3 occasions over the past 15 years we've visited the US no one has ever confronted or challenged us about conversing in Chinese in public (restaurants, malls, and etc.).  We were fortunate in that way, although I did expect it.


That is because you (a Caucasian, I presume) were speaking with her. No doubt that if she was speaking to another Chinese person, in Chinese, somebody would have made some sort of off-handed comment about speaking English in America.
Stupid people are like Glowsticks. You want to snap them in half and shake the crap out of them until they see the light.
I love sarcasm. It's like punching someone in the head ... only with words

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