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Support Mechanism

Family Support

Empirical findings (Ye 1992; Ni 2005; Lin 1998) revealed that it is family members rather than outside resources that mainland Chinese students usually turned to for help when in crises or in trouble. Frank (2000) found that Chinese students usually called their family when feeling depressed or frustrated. Zhang (1992) pointed out, the existence of the close ties between Chinese parents and their children and the willingness of parents to sacrifice anything for the sake of their children’s education significantly contribute to Chinese students’ academic achievement.

Support from Chinese Student Community

There is a dichotomy in the function of the Chinese student community. On one hand, Chinese students tend to withdraw from social activities and confine their interaction within their own community. Consequently, they are further isolated from American culture and lack of culture understanding. Language improvement is hindered as well. On the other hand, the Chinese student community is another available resource which provides support for mainland Chinese students. The Chinese community serves the Chinese students as a means to explore their new surroundings. Just as Feng (1991) reported, Chinese students are ready to help each other. As new students come, old ones always help them, show them around, and teach them about America. Also they tend to live together and interact with their Chinese fellows. Kao (1987) found that students from the PRC ranked other Chinese nationals as their most preferred sources of help for solving adjustment problems. Meanwhile, the Chinese community also becomes a very important mechanism to provide psychological support. Since most Chinese students have experienced varieties of stress in American educational settings, Chinese friends are the important source of emotional support. Although Chinese people do not usually or easily reveal their thoughts and feelings to others, it is not uncommon for them to share their sufferings or pressure (Li 1993).

Both strong family bonds and strong ties to the Chinese students community reflect the self-sufficiency of Chinese culture, both of which contribute to the Chinese students’ social isolation from the American culture and provide necessary support when needed (Feng 1991; Zhang 1992).

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