Story by Alina Wong | Staff Writer, Video by Kennedy Dendy | Broadcast Reporter
Along with the majority of universities in America, Chinese students are the largest body of international students at Baylor University. According to the Office of Institutional Research and Testing, the number of incoming freshmen from China, increased from 36 students in 2015 to 72 students in 2018. Although the trend for international Chinese students is to flock to East and West Coast metropolitan areas where the pool of Asians are more condensed, a number of them have chosen to spend their college career at the home of the bears.
Dr. Mark Bryant, the director of International Student and Scholar Services at Baylor, discussed the interpersonal and cultural appeals Baylor offers its international students.
“Baylor is really like many of the other institutions in America where Chinese students make up a large part of the international population,” Bryant said. “I think many more Chinese students started studying abroad with the rise of the middle class in China and in response to the particular appeal an international degree can have in the culture. A lot of Chinese students actually come to get their degrees with every intention of returning home after graduating. The degree makes them more marketable.”
Bryant said he believes the welcoming atmosphere and resources Baylor offers parents is what attracts international students. He gleaned many of his insights by interacting with local parents in China during Baylor’s annual send-off parties.
“Based off of my conversations with alumni and parents, I have a feeling that parents and students like Baylor’s environment,” Bryant said. “There is a common understanding in the international community nowadays that parents prefer that their children truly experience the culture. I think that Baylor portrays a care of the students that includes this. For example, when I meet parents I often give them my own contact information so that they don’t have to worry.”
Xian, China, freshman, Jia Bei He, Yudi Hu, from Sichuan, China freshman Yudi Hu and Taiyuan, China, freshman Shuyuan Liu, met at Baylor and became close friends.
According to He, she was drawn to Baylor for its environment and culture. From her point of view, American universities generally allow their students more freedom to pursue individual interests through forms of extracurriculars, whereas students in China are forced to spend the majority of their time studying. Baylor’s particular draw for her, however, was its emphasis on what she deemed a “friendly and welcoming culture.”
While He is appreciative of the freedom and extracurriculars that come along with studying in America, she has had a hard time adjusting her thinking because of the cultural difference.
“American and Chinese culture is so different down to the way we think,” He said. ” I feel like there is sometimes a belief that the cultures don’t blend well, but I want to understand the way Americans think and be friends with them. Although most of my friends here are also Chinese international students, I’m thankful for my classes because they help me speak English, make American friends and learn about the culture. People here are usually very understanding.”
Hu had never visited America before attending Baylor. She heard about Baylor from a friend who previously studied in Texas. Like He, she was drawn to Baylor for its cultural reputation.
“My friend told me that people at Baylor treat you really well,” Hu said. ” Whenever you need help, there is always someone willing to help you. My American roommate has helped me a lot. There are a lot of ways to meet people from different cultures here and they’re usually very open. I’ve made a lot of American friends since coming here who are all very nice.”
Liu was attracted to Baylor’s culture but for another reason. She was interested in Baylor’s missional focus on community service.
“I think the teaching style in America fits me better in a sense that you have more freedom to do what you want to do.” Liu said. “I am very passionate about volunteer service and I like how Baylor has many volunteering options and opportunities to go on mission trips.”