The Pursuit of the Chinese Dream in America: Chinese Undergraduate Students at American Universities

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9781498521680: The Pursuit of the Chinese Dream in America: Chinese Undergraduate Students at American Universities

The Pursuit of the Chinese Dream in America illuminates the hopes, expectations, challenges, and aspirations of this generation of Chinese students as they pursue higher education at American universities. Based on interviews with Chinese students, parents, teachers, and educational agents in Shanghai, this ethnographic study examines the cultural, economic, and social factors that have fostered the increase of Chinese undergraduates on American campuses.

Dennis T. Yang describes the pivotal roles that parents, teachers, peers, and educational agents played as students embarked on the college admissions process for American universities, with an emphasis on the prominent influence of parents during the college decision-making process. Yang addresses how his interviewees, particularly the parents and students, interpreted and evaluated the importance of cultural, social, and economic capital in their lives, and how the drive to obtain these forms of capital, to varying degrees, affected the families’ decisions to conceive of and support the study abroad option.

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About the Author:

Dennis T. Yang is associate director for the Beijing Gateway Office at Boston University.

Review:

Employing an ethnographic approach, Yang examines the cultural and social reasons that drive the steady influx of Chinese students onto US campuses for their undergraduate degrees. The author applies the Wisconsin model of status attainment and Bourdieu’s capital theory as his theoretical framework and analyzes firsthand data from interviews with students, parents, teachers, and educational agents in Shanghai. After a thorough discussion of the influence of significant others’ values and expectations on students’ pursuit of cultural, social, and economic capitals in their educational attainment processes, Yang argues that the impetus for beginning an overseas educational path is a cultural determination to preserve, protect, and promote the mianzi (face, social reputation, and prestige) for students and their families. The book is well written with rich information and eye-opening analysis. It will give readers valuable insight into understanding the surge of Chinese students on US campuses. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. (CHOICE)

The growing wave of Chinese students seeking an American college education has yet to crest; if anything, it is growing in intensity and magnitude. The consequences reach deeply into the education systems of both countries, and also, eventually, to the relationship between the two most powerful nations of this century. Read what Dennis T. Yang has to say to understand the cultural, familial, and economic forces at play in this Chinese drive for an American education, and why it will not soon fade. (Kenneth Prewitt, Columbia University)

This sophisticated ethnographic study—chock-full of fascinating interview data and the author's bi-cultural insights—illuminates why increasing numbers of Chinese students come to the United States for their undergraduate degrees. Yang's conclusion is that in the milieu of an individualist-oriented U.S. higher educational system, Chinese students acquire mianzi (face or prestige) which enhances their own and their parents social standing in the competitive collectivist society that is contemporary China; Confucius meets Horatio Alger. (Steven I. Levine, University of Montana)

Dennis T. Yang delivers a well-written, in-depth exploration of the real drivers behind the steady rise in the numbers of Chinese students choosing to study in the U.S. Those in the field of higher education—particularly international education administrators—will find Yang’s critical study both timely and insightful. (Portia Williams, Teachers College Columbia University)

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