China’s education system has been criticized by education reformers both within and outside China. Chinese parents, increasingly fed up with a system that focuses on rote memorization, are looking for a holistic education which includes character development and extracurricular activities. Cram schools, that prep kids for the “Gao Kao” (the university entrance exam), do not teach students how to think critically.
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, only 65 Chinese students studied at American private high schools in the 2005 – 2006 academic year. By 2010 – 2011, that number had grown to 6,725. That number increases to 25,880 for the total number of Chinese high school students studying in both public and private schools in 2012. The Christian Science Monitor reported that the total number of high school age Chinese studying in the U.S. was 24,000 in 2010 – 2011 with most of them in public high schools. The difference between 2005 and 2010 is a new generation of Chinese parents who have money and an interest in providing an international education for their children. Chinese parents know that single children tend to be spoiled, so they send them abroad to teach them to be independent, make friends with American students, learn to compromise and develop life skills that will better equip them for U.S. universities.
As guest editor of this summer issue of the ChinaSource Quarterly, I am excited to share perspectives from people working among Chinese students in varying capacities. This issue includes advice on how to nurture and care for these young students. From a Chinese student who recently attended a U.S. private high school to a Chinese university professor we learn about the needs of students and the challenges Chinese parents face in finding a holistic education for their child. We also hear some cross-cultural observations from a director of a recruiting organization as well as how to care for these students from the perspective of a mentor and high school admissions director. The diverse group of authors in this issue will help us understand how we can better nurture, teach and support Chinese high school age students coming to the U.S. at younger and younger ages.
Jon Keith of WAnet describes the developmental opportunities for these students at private high schools. He offers many examples of strengths and some weaknesses in the Chinese education system while promoting his model of 6C’s plus leadership as the way forward for success in the future. Keith’s hope is that high school leaders, teachers and host families will catch the vision that we can influence one of the largest people groups in the world for good.
Ruth Kuder of Eastern Christian High School shares her learning experiences from admitting students who are equipped to succeed cross-culturally in U.S. high schools to providing for their lodging needs and ESL support. Her valuable advice to other schools is helpful as they seek to provide adequate resources and staff support for this growing population.
What a privilege it is to serve Chinese high school students and their parents as they navigate the cross-cultural challenges of study abroad opportunities. As many of us “ride the third wave” of students coming to the U.S. during their high school years, we need to also be thinking about the effects of taking Chinese youth away from their families and communities at such young ages. My desire is that our readers will reflect deeply and consider how each of us can care for these young people who are leaving their homes and families in the hope of gaining a new way of life.
Image Credit: Joann Pittman