Chinese parents no longer sure about sending children to US
Published: Jun 05, 2018 07:28 PM
Last week, an article published in the Los Angeles Times stirred hot debate among Chinese families who plan to send their children to the United States for a university education.

"Police arrest flight school employees on suspicion of kidnapping student to send him back to China," the headlines screamed, revealing that a Chinese pilot student in northern California was kidnapped by his instructors. He was saved at the last minute when his brother, in China, notified the police.

Shi Tianshu, the Chinese student, told Searchlight that he had been in the US for about seven months on a one-year visa for students who enroll in vocational programs. He said his university paid $70,000 for him to train at a Redding-based flight school. For the last two months, he said, he has been "grounded," unable to fly or train, the LA Times reported.

One of the flight school employees involved in the case told authorities that they were sending Shi back to China because he had been expelled by the school for failing most of his classes, and because his visa had expired. His English was also not strong enough to safely communicate with the air traffic control tower, the instructor claimed.

"Why do Americans discriminate against Chinese students so cruelly?" some local parents on my WeChat feed asked. "It's just one of many cases of maltreatment toward Chinese students," others said. "Without appropriate English skills, it's hard to survive on a US campus, let alone keep up with their classmates," a few countered. "Rising tuition fees, frequent school shootings and kidnappings, no job opportunities, almost impossible to get a green card... what's the point of us sending children there?"

These comments reflect the dilemma that international students and their parents are currently facing. I'm among the millions of Chinese mothers who intend to send our child to the US.

I used to teach English at some universities in Shanghai. I was often surprised to see my students so sleepy during our morning sessions, from staying up all night not studying but playing computer games. In class, they often arrived late and then paid more attention to their mobile phones than their teachers.

In Chinese society, there is a widespread belief that "you will feel totally relaxed in university" after four grueling years in middle and high school preparing for the gaokao.

Parents and teachers alike claim that "the hardship you endure during middle school can guarantee a worry-free university life." Surrounded by this voice, you can understand how relaxed Chinese freshmen feel once they move into their campus dorms and have complete freedom to stay up late, sleep late and never study.

They are fearless of their university teachers and low scores and can even "evaluate" their professors' performance with a low grade if they are unsatisfied with their scores, which costs the teacher a chance for promotion or salary raise. Under this vicious circle, most Chinese university teachers simply prefer to give all their students passing scores and let them behave as they will.

I also happened to be a visiting scholar at a US university for six months. I found the American teaching style, its independent arrangements and the knowledge absorbing system more attractive than the Chinese system. I wouldn't say it's perfect, but I know it will benefit my daughter, who intends on studying in the US soon.

All young people need to learn from their own mistakes and overcome challenges and obstacles on their own in order to help them mature and be more competitive in the long run. US universities, in this regard, are probably better suited for Chinese parents who prefer not to let their children become spoiled and soft during their university years. And if they happen to get kidnapped, well, that's another of life's many challenges they will simply have to endure.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Global Times.

Illustration:Lu Ting/GT