The Discriminations That International Students Face
Without any question, international students can provide many benefits to the United States of America. They add new perspective to classroom conversations, and increase Americans’ awareness (Harrison 2) and appreciation for other countries and cultures (Bevis 13). Studying in the United States and becoming international students are a new concepts to lots of students nowadays. In order to get the top education, students make their decisions to leave their countries and to study in the United States of America.
It can be really a tough task for them to studies in America; be away from home and to start their new lives in a new country. In their academic life, language seems to be a big issue to new arrivals; they are easy to get confused and to be discriminated due to their language weakness. Discrimination also appears in international students’ social lives. In other words, international students not only need to face language and cultural barriers, but also social discrimination. When discrimination occurs, they shouldn’t stay in silence; they need to speak out and fight back for the equality.
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With difficulty in English, international students become a special group in school, and sometime they are treated differently in some ways. As a new coming international student, they need help in many ways. The biggest problem to them is the language issue. In order words, to understand English is a big challenge for international students when they try to get into the American’s life style. “Their English level competency or discomfort about speaking English may impede their interaction with the new community to fulfill their initial needs” (Poyrazli and Grahame 29).
This means, with poor English skill, it is a drawback for international students to get in the new community. It is easy to say, but it takes time to reach the goal. Lots of international students struggle with their language problem; According to my research, there are three types of common language discrimination appeared in American’s higher education that international students faced. First of all, misunderstand in English can cause lots of problem for International students, and when they give the wrong answer to the question, American students may make fun of them.
A Japanese student reported she was joked by American students when she misunderstands the question and she was so sad “because she could not speak English well”. As she recalled, she didn’t hear clearly when the teacher was asking about the “worst troubling experiences”, and she understood it as “what is troubling experience? ” What embarrassed her was that the people around her started laughing at her when they heard her answer (Bonanza and Wong 634). The unfriendly laugh eventually made that girl speak less and less and hardly participate in the class (Bonanza and Wong 634).
Misunderstandings of the tasks and assignments can greatly affect international student’s grade. “They liked aspects of the American system and had difficulty understanding in professor” (Poyrazli and Grahame 36). Some professors have some accents that are difficult to understand, and sometimes they speak really fast which makes international students hard to catch. Lots of international students have the “disability” of understanding English. Even though it seems that everybody in the class is on the same page, but actually international students are left behind (Poyrazli and Grahame 37).
Secondly, with international students’ limited English skills, lots of them are isolated in class, especially shown in the discussion. People can always see international students sitting by themselves or people come from their country and seldom communicating with the native students (Hecht, Wadsworth and Jung 67). This situation is really common in the United States’ colleges and universities. “Lindemann (2005) found that American students oftentimes hold a negative bias towards international students’ English proficiency” (Hecht, Wadsworth and Jung 67).
During the discussion in class, American students usually group up with English native speakers. This makes international students feel “insecure about their language abilities, struggling to effectively communicate with instructors, and be isolated during class discussions or excluded from study groups” (Lee 29). A female international student who “tries very hard to master English and fit into the student culture” (Lee and Rice 397), said that “during class breaks or leaving the room after class she often [heard] students making plans to get together but that she and other international students [were] seldom invited” (Lee and Rice 397).
International students are trying to join in American groups, but they always being left out or ignored. So class will split apart by international group and native speakers group. Third, the language discrimination that international students facing in class is that sometimes the professor is not patient with their poor English skills (Lee and Rice 397). Some students reported that their professors ran out their patience with international students’ English abilities. One Brazilian male said that one of his professors didn’t like him because his English was bad, and the professor was always impatient to listen to him (Lee and Rice 397).
Also a Chinese girl reported that because her English skill was poor, when she asked questions in class, the professor always said “I don’t understand” in front of her classmates and made her embarrassed (Lee and Rice 397). When being interviewed, a Japanese girl said that one of her professors always tended to rush out the answers to questions she asked (Bonazzo and Wong 634). The answers she got were always short; the professor seemed to be less willing to answer her questions and spent less time explaining compared to what he/she did to American students. Professors are often identified as dominant or superior figures, whose impatience with less than fluent English speakers or foreign accents undermined these students’ confidence” (Lee and Rice 398). Even though professors are on the higher level, they still need to bring their patience to the school has poor English skill. International students are not only face to the language discrimination, but also facing some social bias in schools in the United States. Lots of international students have the unsettling sense and the feeling of discomfort, so they would like to stay with people from the same countries or cultures.
A study which is about the “role of identity gaps and communication theory of identity” was making an experiment showed how international students group up (Hecht, Wadsworth and Jun 71). The all 218 participants were international students who enrolled in a northeastern university. Tester mixed them together and during the break time, they are trying to find the patterns of who is in which subgroup . The study examined out that “Chinese students were the largest subgroup of the sample (35%). Students from other Asian countries (e. g. , Korea, Japan, India and Southeast Asia) shared 41% of the sample. ” (Hecht, Wadsworth and Jun 72).
An international student reported that people stare at her and she felt that she didn’t belongs to that place, so she was rather stay with her group (Lee and Rice 396-397). In addition, in their social lives, lots of international students are facing to discriminations due to the cultural differences (Lee and Rice 394). Maxine Agazie, an international student from Africa, mentioned that his neighborhood gossip about them all the time (Agazie 36). Max said when he was doing their traditional activities outside which were different from the local culture, his neighborhood showed little respect (Agazie 36).
The neighborhood talks about how weird their traditional activities was, and also made some unfriendly commons on their clothes (Agazie 36). A Mexican woman experienced being looked down by Americans because the news in TV talked about “you got ripped off by the little Mexicans” (Lee and Rice 396). This type of discrimination might lead to negative feelings about her cultural identity. Some of American students may have stereotypes about international students’ home countries. As their ideas about other countries are often behind the times, they will ask strange questions to international students about their home countries for fun.
One Japanese student said that more than one American student ask her if all the Japanese still wear swords on the street (Bonazzo and Wong 636). A Chinese student reported that “she was upset to her classmates make really bad and not true comments about her country without knowing about it,” and other international student said that “Americans don’t know much about the world, but they are free to talk about it (Poyrazli and Grahame 36). Due to the poor images that the third world countries have, international students are easily being stereotyped.
An Indian Male told his story about the ignorance by his professor. The professor asked him if he is a Muslim, he said he is Hindu, and from India. While he was explaining the difference between Hindu and Muslim, the professor cut of his speech and said: “yeah, the same difference” (Lee and Rice 399). When I first came to America, people ask me if Chinese people have car, and whether all the Chinese male have the long hair; one of my friends from Germany has experienced the same types of questions, like if Germans’ people have milk to drink or something like whether Hitler is still alive or not.
The examples above reveal the stereotypical view of the countries other than the United State of America (Lee and Rice 363). Many of the international students also experienced a type of discrimination called verbal discrimination, which means they are insulted directly. In the study of “International students’ perception of discrimination” from University of Arizona, several students experienced negative comments from the faculty on their home country and culture in the class, and even “in a few cases, engaging in verbal or sexual harassment” (Lee and Rice 398).
A Japanese female was asked about her sexual experience in front of the class by her professor, she was embarrassed and felt receiving no respect (Lee and Rice 398). In most of the Asian countries, people are not as open-minded as Americans. It is very important to keep their chasteness especially for females. A study of international students in terms of perceived Discrimination by University of California (Los Angeles) shows that “International students from the regions of the Middle East and Africa experience more discrimination than do students from other regions” (Hanassab 160).
A student from India spoke of her experience when she met her advisor who has bias about the whole Middle East countries. During the talk, her advisor made lots of racial and sexist comments about the area where she is from; also the advisor said “wiping out the whole Middle East” which really shocked her (Lee and Rice 398). There is another type of discrimination; this type of discrimination is against a whole group. Without any warning the international students ahead, School tells them to leave their study program. Not long ago, there was an unfair treatment happened in the graduate school of the Yale University.
A group of Chinese students has filed a grievance with the dean of the graduate school there, asserting that some Yale professors and administrators routinely treat Chinese students unfairly. “We’re being singled out unfairly to defend our academic standing again and again in order to keep our student standing, to keep our visa,” said Xuemei Han, a Ph. D. student in the university’s department of ecology and evolutionary biology (Gravois A12). School mails a group of Chinese student a letter and suggests them to leave their program; they didn’t know the reason until the advisor told them that they didn’t do well in school.
School didn’t provide any second chance for them, and just encouraged that group of Chinese students to leave. With all the disrespectful actions, stereotypes and discriminations, international student shouldn’t keep silent and stay the way it is. They should fight back for the equality and get the solution to even out the discriminations. In the case of Yale University’s unfair treatment, Chinese student stepped out of the silence instead and hold a demonstration to fight for their rights. Not only Chinese students attend in the demonstration, but also students from other countries join in this demonstration.
At the end, this event had a happy ending, the group of Chinese student won the demonstration. The president of Association of Chinese Student and Scholars at Yale Mr. Huang presented that even though language barrier and cultural difference makes their lives hard in the United State, even though Huang thinks the demonstration is a very American way to do, but if this thing didn’t happened, international students in Yale will have never the experience that they can use this way to express their voice (Gravois A12). So this is a step to show that international students have their rights and they can fight for it.
To provide a welcoming environment to international students and help them in their study and communications, school should provide some easy ways for those English as Second Language students, for example, some school provide online notes for those ESL students who could not take notes quickly in English (Poyrazli and Grahame 36). Also, in order to help international students feel free to make mistake, American students should provide them a better environment and being friendlier to international students (Bonanza and Wong 636). Thus, international students can get a better chance to practice their English skills in front of Americans.
Once they felt no pressure when making mistake in speaking, their English skills are improved. In addition, Professors should be more patient with international students’ English, which is their second language as they needs time to improve it (Senyshyn, Warford and Zhan 26). Jenny Lee and Charles Rice from University of Arizona suggested “guidelines concerning teaching and working with international students be articulated so that administrators and faculty are aware of their responsibility in providing a safe and welcoming environment for international student” (Lee and Rice 406).
International students will be appreciated and do much better performance in their academic life than before. University of Tennessee wanted to make some changes in order to let international students feel involved. They studied lots of different cultures. From the study, they found out that “international students felt that meeting Americans students and learning to think independently would be difficult adjustments” (Senyshyn, Warford and Zhan 21).
So they provided a free zone for international student to talk about their issues and gave them a platform to show both how international student’s thought about American and how American think them (Senyshyn, Warford and Zhan 23). By the change the University of Tennessee made, international students are more acceptable in the classes by American students. Some stereotypes that American had are based on the media in the country. The movies and other types of media talk about international students’ home countries and give Americans the bad expression (Hecht, Wadsworth and Jung68).
When American talks about foreign countries with the wrong idea, the international students will feel really sad and disappointed. To solve the problem, international students might create a group to talk about their culture and show some videos or images to Americans, letting them know more about the world and foreign countries. A Mexican girl held a party and invited Americans to join in the University of Arizona. In the party, she talked about the unfriendly treatment she had experienced and mentioned about the positive sides of her country.
Lots of Americans reported that they had learnt a lot and changed their way of thinking Mexican as before (Lee and Rice 395). Letting Americans’ learn more about foreign countries could really help to wave out their negative comments about international student’s home countries. Being an international student is tough. They are young, and new to the society. They are also under all kinds of pressure that the same age people may never think of. However, international students are strong enough to face the discrimination and other problems. And also they are able to fight back for their rights.
With four or more years of experiences being study aboard, international student might be well prepared to step in the community.
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