EssayThree Draft One
Lifeof Chinese in America
Chineseand American cultures have a lot of differences making most studentsstruggle to inculcate norms and regulations that they do not value. Pratt coins the art of contact zones of which she uses to describethe social space by which diverse cultures interact, grapple andclash with each other over different stances that they hold. In doingso, Pratt goes further to describe scenarios for the linguistic andcultural encounters and points at the power of negotiations as wellas related tussles. While the term was initially applied to literacyand learning theories, it has been extended and appropriated todifferent humanity conversations(Pratt 36).The paper, therefore, explores the way of life of the Chineseundertaking their study in the U.S. Furthermore, key areas ofdiscussion include social activities, language use, interaction withthe Americans and cultural adaptations. The paper also explores theArt of the Contact Zone by Pratt to provide a framework for theproject.
Toa certain extent, parallels can be drawn between the contact zone andconcepts associated with standpoint theory and rationality. One ofthe areas that the contact zone concept applies is language. In suchcontext, words are perceived as existing within a speech (Pratt38).Besides, Pratt also theorized it as self-defined and coherententities that are integrated by the homogenous competence shared bymembers of a group. The stance of the speech in communities withinthe United States tends to reflect the utopian perspectives by whichthe modern societies define themselves. In the real sense, thestandpoints create the allowance for international scholars pursuingtheir career in the U.S to perceive such societies as imaginedcommunities. Particularly, Chinese students in the United States haveto struggle with loneliness and endeavor to make new friends in theirschool and the surroundings. Challenges that most Chinese face in theU.S are that they usually lack friends and family members to talk toin a foreign land, thus affecting their social activities (Scollon,Suzanne and Rodney149).
Ina similar perspective, Scollon,Suzanne and Rodney asserted thatmost Chinese students live with their fellow countrymen, and thatgave them a platform to speak their language and behave as they werestill in China (149). Such local families could, therefore, assistthe Chinese students to understand the customs and cultures of theAmericans as well as teach them English. However, other students whowere not interested in social activities spent most of their time insurfing internet, engaging in sports and visiting their friends(Scollon,Suzanne and Rodney150).
Interactionwith the Americans
Theart of the contact zone also reflects the extent of constructingthoughts and ideas because it majorly focuses on conversation.Similarly, Pratt argued that academic setting context portrayed auniform speech idea that helped in providing necessary order andstability in regards to interaction. However, such aspect does notapply to Chinese in American settings. First, friendship developmentbetween people from different countries and cultural backgrounds, forexample, the Chinese and the Americans, require time. It is worthnoting that most international students wish to have friends fromother nations and different social orientation, but suchintercultural interaction and communication was difficult to build. The reason is that friendship is based on mutual interest rather thanthe desire of a particular party. An interview with ten Chinesestudents studying at a university in the U.S revealed that majorityof American citizens had limited interest in China and the Chinesepeople. Moreover, the interview depicted that most Americans arekind, but they have little knowledge about China. Li, a student at auniversity in the U.S, narrated his experience with Dean ofGraduates, and he reflected that the Dean could not imagine thatChinese can make delicate, Quartz watch (Scollon,Suzanne and Rodney151)
Prattsuggested that effective communication makes people feel good andempowered. In the “Arts of the Contact Zone,” Pratt narrated astory about his son and the way his literacy gave him an upper handto start a conversation with strangers (Pratt37).However, that is not applicable in the case for people withlinguistic barriers and different values to adapt each other’sculture. It is notable that some Chinese in the United States had apositive perception of American cultures, but they did not embracemost customs portrayed on television. Particularly, Americans werecomfortable with heterogeneous opinions, and such scenarios couldinculcate violence and pornography. Besides, the youths in the U.Sliked going to parties depicting the way such nation embraced freedomas opposed China, which had a lot of restrictions. Additionally,Americans have individualistic nature and most friends respectprivate lives of their colleagues as opposed to the Chinese who areloyalists(Qiu and Angela 110).Some students argued that complete cultural assimilation is notpossible because fundamental values are ingrained in the mind of aperson rather than willingness and successful adaptation(Zhang, Stella and John 377).
SocialEvents and Value Exchange
Theonly aspect that supported the Patt’s idea of contact zone iscommunication, which is enhanced by social gatherings. Patt definedthe concept as a place in which two different cultures merged andstimulated linguistic and social exchange. For instance, Wang who wasa student at a University in the U.S argued that adaptation of aspecified community’s norms depended on different situations. Heasserted that he needed to comply with the American cultures if hisprimary purpose was to work in the United States (Scollon,Suzanne and Rodney151).
Moreover,most Chinese students are in a dilemma between complying with the U.Svalues or the fundamental norms. The majority of foreign learnersfrom China found themselves in an internal tag of war in regards tothe consciousness of the Chinese identity and high aspirationconcerning the American politicians and cultural systems. That showedthat cultural adaptation is beyond competence and open-mindedness,but rather concerns unfamiliar values and long-term culturalindoctrination. Furthermore, the outside community played a criticalrole in shaping the lives of Chinese in the United States.Predominantly, Chinese students participated in social events thatOffice of International Affairs and affiliate clubs organized. Thesocial activities also offered opportunities for internationalstudents to speak with local hosts (Scollon,Suzanne and Rodney152).
Insummary, Scollon,Suzanne and Rodney arguedthat one can live in regards to the native cultures but remainrelevant in foreign countries like the United States which respectfreedom and diversity (151). However, it is necessary of the Chinesestudying the U.S. to follow the law and regulations of the hostcommunity. Besides, Chinese students should make adjustments, forexample, speaking English and inculcating the education standards ofthe Americans. Therefore, the “Art of Contact Zone” as portrayedby mostly applies to individuals that use similar language to showtheir diversity. Besides, cultural adaptation, social cohesion, andinteraction among the Chinese and American students is about valueswhich cannot be changed by communication.
Pratt,Mary Louise. "Arts of the contact zone." Profession (1991):33-40.
Qiu,Lin, Han Lin, and Angela K-Y. Leung. "Cultural differences andswitching of in-group sharing behavior between an American(Facebook) and a Chinese (Renren) social networking site." Journalof Cross-Cultural Psychology 44.1(2013): 106-121.
Scollon,Ron, Suzanne Wong Scollon, and Rodney H. Jones. Interculturalcommunication: A discourse approach.John Wiley & Sons, 2013.
Zhang,Qin, Stella Ting‐Toomey,and John G. Oetzel. "Linking Emotion to the Conflict Face‐NegotiationTheory: A US–China Investigation of the Mediating Effects of Anger, Compassion, and Guilt in Interpersonal Conflict." HumanCommunication Research 40.3(2014): 373-395.
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