Chinese student launches website to help his fellow countrymen deal with cultural shock in the US
My name is David Zhou. I am 17 years old. Two years ago, I landed in America, some 6,487 miles away from my hometown Shanghai, China. I was afraid but excited. I was uncomfortable, but had hopes of achieving something great. I was fortunate enough to further my studies, becoming an all A student, at Sierra Canyon School, a private school in the US. Now, as I reflect on my experiences in America as an international student, I feel confident, comfortable, happy with my academic and social achievements, but still, I am aiming for higher goals.
In these two years, I have learned a lot from the tough transition. I felt the need to help other students get through the dilemmas that I had to go through, and to adjust to a different culture. With this goal in mind, I came up with the idea of creating a student-to-student based website to catalyze the integration of international students in America. I want to construct an online community where new international students could present their questions which would then be directly answered by me. The website is divided into several sections incorporating almost all the aspects of an international student’s life in the US. One will not understand the Americans’ oral expressions when he or she starts his or her first day at an American High School, and will definitely be shocked at the sudden culture shift. It may be entertaining for students to read my awkward experiences in America, but each and every story is true. I believe that in order to reduce the ethnological misunderstanding, both American students and foreign students should walk out of their comfort zones. A cultural bridge can only exist and be connected from each side, forming an unbreakable bond, when non-natives understand why Americans advocate individualism and heroism, and when native students understand why Chinese people endorse modesty and humility.
My website aims to speak to international students about my experience of cultural transition. I believe that my website is unique in that it has student-to-student interaction and that it addresses the everyday challenges that foreign students may face.
David Zhou is not only the creator of this website, he also writes poems in his free time. Below is one of his compositions.
David Zhou 9/12/2016
If winter comes, can spring be far behind? I am seventeen, born in Shanghai, completing my middle school in China, saying farewell to my relatives and companions, feeling bittersweet, I went to a high school in America. Every day after school, I flee to the asylum. Walking along the Rinaldi street, in Porter Ranch, making a left turn at Mason Avenue, I recognize the only place which allows the wandering soul to rest. I open the portal, walking across the threshold, ascending the stairs to the study, and write this page:
Nobody said it was easy for international students to survive in this unfamiliar community. There are so many slangs that I don’t understand, so many jokes that I couldn’t savor, and so many other things that I don’t know how to deal with. I use Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. I read local newspapers and Times. I love classical music because piano has been my soul mate since I was a kid, but now I simply listen to, rap, rock, jazz and blues. I’ve done such things and endeavored so many times merely to understand what America really is. But I couldn’t figure out. People say that America is like a melting pot, it only serves for Americans, not a single spot, like me from China. So will I always be an outsider? After one year’s study in America, I notice that only when you step out of the comfort zone, will you gain more opportunities to integrate into this environment. We shall not wait for Moirai to decide your fate, instead, we shall rage, rage against the dying of the light. That’s American. Whenever you meet with an international student, tell them the same thing as I write to you today, my instructor, and encourage them to be a better being.