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Advising Students of Asian/Asian American Backgrounds: Intercultural Perspectives. Hui-Min Kuo, Ph.D. Director of Undergraduate Studies Department of Communication Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey 2009 New Jersey Advisors Conference National Academic Advising Association

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advising students of asian asian american backgrounds intercultural perspectives

Advising Students of Asian/Asian American Backgrounds: Intercultural Perspectives

Hui-Min Kuo, Ph.D.

Director of Undergraduate Studies

Department of Communication

Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

2009 New Jersey Advisors ConferenceNational Academic Advising Association

June 9, 2009

who are they
Who are they?
  • Census estimate – approximately 17 million (~5%) Asian American and Pacific Islanders in the United States that represents roughly 48 different ethnic groups from East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.
  • Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) make up ~10% of the undergrads in colleges and universities
  • A single culture, single population group, single ethnicity simply does not represent the complexity and diversity of Asian Americans or AAPI

Model Minority’ Stereotype Obscures Reality of Asian American and Pacific Islander Educational Experience

where do they come from
Where do they come from?

My observations --

  • Mostly local, from different cities and towns in New Jersey; a small number of UG international students (more in graduate programs)
  • American Born – Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Thai, Vietnamese … etc.
  • Parents are 1st generation immigrants, very few whose parents are 2nd generation
  • Some of them are 1st generation in the family to earn a college degree
  • Many of them have opportunities travelling to their parents’ home countries
case in point
Case in point
  • Instructor:
    • This student did attend class, in general.
    • He never said a word in class for the semester.
    • He never really sought help.
  • Student:
    • I am very very embarrassed because I thought I studied very hard.
    • I really do respect that you are strict.
    • Please let me ask you to give me another chance.
what happened
What happened?
  • In this case, challenges of advising a student who:
    • Turned out to be an international student
    • Showed respect for the instructor, but was not proactive about reaching out to the instructor timely
    • Was unclear about what went wrong throughout the semester
    • Was embarrassed by poor performance and (through in-person conversation) by being older than his peers; by disappointing the parents in his native country
broader issues to discuss
Broader issues to discuss
  • Demographic trends – Asian American ethnicities and populations
  • Cultural implications for advising
  • Strategies to address intercultural advising challenges
2007 american community survey 1 year estimates
2007 American community survey, 1-year estimates
  • Nationwide, 4.5% Asian (excluding PI)
  • New Jersey, 7.6% Asian, 3rd largest Asian population in US (Hawaii, CA, NJ, NY, Washington)
  • New Jersey, 30% of people born in Asia
  • New Jersey, 27.8% percent of people 5 Years and over who speak a language other than English at home
fall 2008 statistics rutgers university
Fall 2008 statistics - Rutgers University
  • All campuses, 21% Asian
  • New Brunswick campus, 22% Asian
  • All campuses, 6.5% international students
communication characteristics influenced by culture relevant to intercultural advising
Communication characteristics influenced by culture relevant to intercultural advising
  • Individualism vs. Collectivism
    • Individuals take precedence over groups, emphasize individual needs and personal identity
    • Groups take precedence over individuals, emphasize in-group harmony, ordering relationships, obligation, face, family, strong parenting style, stability, education, self-discipline, subordination to authority
  • Low-Context vs. High-Context
    • Low-context – information must be provided explicitly; tend to communicate in an individualistic and direct manner; show high emotional responsiveness
    • High-context – information is drawn from surroundings; tend to communicate in an implicit and indirect manner; show low emotional responsiveness
interview with yul kwon
Interview with Yul Kwon
how are they doing
How are they doing?

My observations –

  • They feel pressured by their parents – education is top priority, good grades, need to pursue majors in those fields that can provide a steady job, e.g., medicine, law, engineering, business, finance … etc.
  • They may get bothered by people asking them “what are you?” “where are you really from?”
  • They feel annoyed by sometimes being assigned to ESL classes or questioned if English is their 2nd language
  • Not all of them are good at Math
how are they doing1
How are they doing?

My observations –

  • They develop various cultural and ethnic identities –e.g., Chinese, American, Chinese American, Asian American, etc. Some feel comfortable with multiple identities; some face struggles.
  • Some feel comfortable in a diverse university compared to growing up in mostly white/European American communities
  • They become to identify more with those who share similar cultural backgrounds, e.g., active in ethnic organizations or cultural groups
intercultural advising challenges
Intercultural advising challenges
  • Culture
    • Insensitivity and misunderstanding of diverse cultures may discourage students
  • Language
    • Limitations and barriers may frustrate students
  • Identity
    • Shifting identities may isolate students
  • Acculturation
    • Unfamiliarity with systems and resources may disengage students
where are you really from
Where are you really from?
  • American-born vs. International
  • 2nd generation vs. 1st generation
    • 1st generation – moved to the US after age 13
    • 1.5 generation – move to the US before age 13
    • 2nd or later generation – born in the US
  • Model minority vs. regular students
  • Stereotypes: studious, self-sufficient, high math; cluster in science, technology, engineering … etc.
  • Identity seeking in a multicultural campus:
    • identity denial and assertion. The “twinkie” metophor, yellow on the outside but white on the inside.
more cases
More cases
  • Overachiever? 1st-year with many AP classes already completed and wanted to dive into more demanding classes immediately
  • Ethnic Pride Activist? 3rd-year student spent too much time in an ethnic student org., and did not do well academically
  • Underachiever? 4th-year needing a major because of unsuccessful pursuits in science or engineering areas
more issues
More issues
  • They (1st & 2nd yr students) are found to display, on average, higher levels of fear of failure and anxiety than Anglo American students (Zusho, Pintrich, & Cortina, 2005).
  • They may feel ambivalent about their identities since they receive little or no guidance from schools or mainstream culture (Lei, 2006).
  • They may feel ignored of instructional and institutional support because of model minority myth (Stanley, Rohdieck & Tang, 1999).
can we offer culturally informed advising
Can we offer culturally informed advising?

In theory –

  • “No two individuals have exactly the same life experiences. No two people, therefore, interpret messages in the same way” (Gudykunst, 2001)
  • Develop approaches that pay attention to cultural differences and similarities and communicate proactively
  • Treat students as cultural individuals and learn from them as “culture teachers”
  • Multicultural counseling competencies (Association of Multicultural Counseling and Development)
    • Awareness of own cultural values and biases.
    • Understanding and appreciation of client's worldview.
    • Culturally appropriate intervention strategies
intercultural advising strategies
Intercultural advising strategies

In practice –

  • Acknowledge that we all have our own specific cultural lens so that we should be aware of our own ideological, cultural framework and how it shapes our philosophy and practice (Lei, 2006; McCalman, 2007)
  • Embrace that Asian American students are complex social beings who can bring dynamic cultural energies given opportunities.
  • Be aware of who they are and where they come from
  • Reach out and encourage them to speak up and interact with others especially if they are shy or quiet
  • Avoid making assumptions about their knowledge about ethnic cultures (some of them are simply Americans)
  • Apply flexible and open-minded communication style and learn to tolerate ambiguity and unfamiliarity
nacada resources
NACADA resources
  • ESL/International Student Advising Commission,
  • Multicultural Concerns Commission,
  • Monograph 17, Advising Special Populations: Adult Learners, Community College Students, LGBTQ Students, Multicultural Students, Students on Probation, Undecided Students
  • Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources,
  • Academic Advising Today,
additional resources
Additional resources
  • Multicultural Competency Development (knowledge, skills and personal attributes),
  • Intercultural Communication Institute,
  • DiversityWeb, Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U)
  • Association of Multicultural Counseling and Development,
  • National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME),
  • Home institution, for example, at Rutgers, Committee to Advance Our Common Purposes, UG Multicultural Engagement; Multicultural Programs (student life), Library’s Diversity Resources … etc.