As shown in the demographic comparisons, two of the pronounced differences between the U.S. and Chinese cultures will affect the students’ acculturation and their success in the program.
- how the Chinese students relate to authority, both individuals and the program/institution
- how willing they are to step out from their peers
Geert Hofstede measures them as Power Distance Index (PDI) and Individualism (IDV). The Chinese culture scores 80 on the PDI and the U.S. culture scores 40. The larger number indicates more distance. In short, the U.S. students find it easier to ask questions of teachers and institutions. To the Chinese, the U.S. students who question and challenge teachers are disrespectful and inconsiderate. To the U.S. students, the Chinese students are shy and unapproachable and too often invisible.
The Chinese culture scores 20 on the IDV and the U.S. culture scores 91. A larger number indicates a culture that rewards individual behavior more than group behavior. If the Chinese students are going to integrate, even thrive, they are going to have to step out and speak up. Speaking English is one of the four language skills they must learn, but it can easily be neglected if the student has a Mandarin-speaking social circle and can read, listen, and even write well enough.
The Documenting U.S. Culture course will encourage the students to develop their English-speaking skills in four ways:
- regular lessons in elocution and enunciation for the stage
- oral presentations of students’ experiences and media productions, both in-class and to the college and larger community, perhaps via video
- mock trial rehearsal and performance
- video script rehearsal and performance