Chinese students counterprotest at Duke U. (4/9/08) 北京奥运前中国留学生的“爱国丑态”
Contrast American & Chinese Students
"Free Beings" vs. "Chinese" Series
陈凯一语： Kai Chen's Words:
To understand reality and find truth in the world is what the Chinese should do in order to be free. Not as some assume that first the Chinese need to be understood by the world.
Contrast American & Chinese Students
By Kai Chen 陈凯 （Written 5/10/2006, Reprint 9/29/2011)
If you compare native born American students and the first or second generation Chinese American students, you will find that most Chinese American students have better grades and attend better schools. After they graduate, you will find most Chinese American students tend to have good, steady jobs with good incomes.
Yet, very few Chinese Americans have become prominent in community lives, in politics, in the military, in social activities, in becoming corporate executives... Somehow they are not in the American leadership echelon. I have heard some complaints from Chinese American communities. Some blame it on racism and glass ceilings, some blame it on the cultural barriers, some blame it on the language difference and their Chinese accent... But very few Chinese American families see that the defective Chinese family culture plays a big role in this phenomenon.
Most Chinese families, especially those who have just moved from overseas to America, have great work ethics and they taught their children to work hard as well. But they fail to understand that a capitalist society not only rewards hard work, mostly it rewards innovation and risk-taking. The free market rewards not only effort, but mostly talent plus creativity. This is where the Chinese families come short.
Having good grades does not make good citizens. It is only one element. Most Chinese families keep to themselves or just function in the Chinese speaking circles, either due to language difficulties, or a reluctance to merge into American mainstream culture. Many Chinese students have very little social contact outside their own cultural circle; many have very little extra-curriculum activities. Very few play sports which is a very big part in American life. Very few assume school student leadership activities and roles. Very few have things and interests that are special to themselves and to others. They are single-dimension competitors. They only work hard to get good grades.
Confidence is crucial in a person's social life and career. Yet many Chinese students are socially illiterate and are basically social retards. They simply don't know how to effectively communicate with others, others that are not in their cultural circle. They assume somehow people are not connected on individual basis but only on group and cultural basis. They simply fail to understand what America is about. They simply fail to take advantage of the enormously open social structure in America. They simply fail to express themselves as unique individuals.
My brother came many years ago. But he and his wife have never paid attention to their only son when he attended high school. They have never gone to a PTA meeting, never communicated with the teachers and school authorities, never even bothered to enter American mainstream culture. They have never travelled together as a family, never gone to see a movie as a family, never had any habbies to immerse themselves in the community... Of course they have every right not to know others, but just don't blame others for not knowing and understanding them. Their son eventually got in trouble with the law and involved in other unpleasant things, but ultimately they fail to understand that in America, in a free society, you are your own master. There is nobody else to blame. If one has shirked his own responsibility as a parent, what does he expect from his child? The only thing I ever heard from my brother and his wife is " making money" in America and life is so hard and so on. His wife eventually returned to China and retired at age 50, full of complaints about their American failure. She simply returned to the misery and stagnation she had known so well and from which she had some certainty.
It is not just my brother and his family. I see many such examples in Chinese American community. Yes indeed they have never had to speak a word of English in China Town or San Gabriel Vallley where are mostly occupied by ethnic Chinese. Yet, they have thoroughly failed to be active, conscientious individuals responsible not only to their own family and themselves, but to God and mankind. They have simply dropped out of American scene. So how can they blame America for their stagnant social status and a joyless life, for they had never bothered to know anybody else? I can't imagine that Condy Rice only worrys about Black community and still makes the Secretary of the State of America. Can you?
My point is maybe there is something (or lack of something) in the Chinese American community that is to be blamed for the failure. Maybe it is the narrow-mindedness in the Chinese culture, or the defects in the Chinese language itself, or something else we still need to find out. But just to blame America, the most open, most free society in human history for not paying attention to the Chinese is a joke. Attention and respect can only be earned, not asked or demanded.
I welcome everyone's opinion on this subject.
Thank you so much for a wonderful article. Your keen observation is to the point and is truly thought-provoking. Mediocrity is indeed the lamentable consequence of all the "good education" provides. Hopeful your writings will give everyone a little nudge out of this comfortable pit of going nowhere.
Obama loves China and the power the communist regime wields over its people