China U

Watch: Chinese Students in America Try to Find Meaning, and Fit In

Three overseas students at Smith College end up feeling caught between two cultures.

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More than 300,000 Chinese students currently study at U.S. universities – almost one in every three international students. The surge in Chinese international students Stateside represents the increasing prosperity, mobility, and individual choice that China’s burgeoning middle class enjoys. But for some Chinese students, the freedom to guide their education in the U.S. liberal arts education system is tempered by a sense of displacement, as they are suspended between two different countries, and two disparate identities.

In this short film, “In-Between,” alumnus Amie Song profiles three Chinese undergraduates at Smith College, a women’s college in Massachusetts, and the tension they feel as students who are proudly Chinese, yet shaped by an American education. “I’m not a tourist anymore,” says one. “But sometimes I feel like I’m just a guoke — a passenger in the United States.” Another relates that when she is back in China, it’s hard for her to convince her friends who never left that her American experience is now “part of me, part of who I am.” Watch the video, below:

[vimeo 174331848 w=640 h=360]


Tea Leaf Nation is Foreign Policy's China channel, focusing on internal sentiment and media analysis. Twitter: @tealeafnation