University of Denver Chinese students face learning new culture

More and more Chinese students have been appearing on college campuses in the U.S. in recent years.

Ge Lv, junior, current president of DU CSSA

According to the Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange published by the Institute of International Education on Nov. 14, 2011, the enrollment of Chinese students in the U.S. was the highest in 2010/11 compared to the international students from other countries. University of Denver (DU) is in the same situation: More and more Chinese students are coming to study here.

“Eight years ago, there were only two Chinese students at DU, but now there are 648 students. The number of Chinese students at DU has increased dramatically since 2009,” Ge Lv, junior, current president of DU Chinese Students and Scholars Association (DU CSSA) said.


With the increasing number of Chinese students, DU CSSA becomes stronger, due to a lot of people contributing to this association in order to help Chinese students with their problems of studying abroad and to enrich their daily life here. DU CSSA wants to bridge the gap between Chinese students and American students who are interested in China by organizing activities.

Problems for Chinese students

Chinese students are not only facing the language problem. Also, due to different backgrounds, it seems hard for them to join American students.

“English is the primary problem for Chinese students,” Lv said. He said, “I don’t mean many Chinese students are not good at English. I mean their oral English is not good enough. So they are not confident to communicate with American students.”

Qiyuan Wang, junior, the vice-president of DU CSSA said, “For some Chinese students, the language is a very big issue. It’s hard for them to communicate with others in a different language and some Chinese students are not confident to show themselves.”

Beside language, Wang said Chinese tradition might be a reason that Chinese students are not active in classes and social gatherings. “They are more likely staying in their own Chinese students groups,” he said.

Jiaqin Huang, junior, a Chinese student, who has studied in the U.S. since high school, said Chinese students were divided in many small groups. “Every time they (Chinese students) went out for activities, they were staying with their own friends and only talking to them,” she said.

Qiyuan Wang, junior, the vice-president of DU CSSA

Lv said, “Chinese students are still shy to join American groups. I talked with several American students, and they told me that Chinese students usually sit in the corner during the parties.”


DU CSSA is the organization to help Chinese students at DU with their problems of living and studying. According to Lv, DU CSSA was founded in 2008. It was a small organization with only 10 Chinese students. Currently, there are 648 Chinese students at DU and all of them are members of DU CSSA.

Lv said, “Our leadership is more like messengers between the departments at DU and Chinese students. We help Chinese students to communicate with these departments and encourage them to join American culture.”

“There are many American students interested in Chinese culture. We want to organize as many activities as possible to encourage Chinese students to integrate themselves with native students at DU and spread and share Chinese culture here with native students,” LV said.

Since the new leadership of DU CSSA began in January, they have cooperated with International Students and Scholar Services and ISO Insurance to organize some activities, such as dumpling making for celebrating Chinese New Year, football matches, basketball matches and Chinese movie club. These activities attracted some Americans.

“We were happy that those activities attracted some American students. Especially, the dumpling making for Chinese New Year, they made dumplings with Chinese students in I-House, while they were learning Chinese culture. Also, some Americans really enjoyed Chinese movies,” Lv said.

In order to encourage more and more Chinese students and also native students to join the activities, DU CSSA created a discussion group on Facebook and a page on a Chinese social network. Wang said, “The number of people who want to join the activities is increasing. Also, many people are happy to offer us ideas about the activities.”

Wang also talked about their next activity, which will be a field trip to the Denver Art Museum  because many Chinese students are art lovers, and they are contacting the staff at the Denver Art Museum.

The impact of American culture on Chinese students

According to Lv, Chinese students are affected by American culture. American education improves Chinese students’ confidence by requiring them to make a lot of presentations in the classes. Chinese students are more independent, because they live on their own without depending on their families.

Huang said Chinese culture is different from American culture, which is less reserved. “As an active person, I think America is a better place for me and other active Chinese students like me compared to China,” she said. She thought American culture did affect Chinese students.

Huang said, “I am happy to see Chinese students changing from quiet to active under the influence of American culture.”


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