Many factors must be weighed in decisions like these, but the difficulties of bicultural parenting become apparent quickly. For instance, if one culture is a high-context culture (see the recent blog on this topic), it will be almost impossible for a child to assimilate into that culture if he or she was not raised in it. Many of the Chinese scholars who come to the U.S. with a family face this issue. Their children will face difficulty re-assimilating back into Chinese culture without the years of “context learning” normal Chinese children experience at home.
There is a wonderful conversation that the father has with his daughter in the movie “Selena” about the need to be 100% competent in both U.S. and Mexican cultures. Selena was the Tejano singer who was enormously popular in both countries. The cultural competency factor is what is critical. There are two main issues—one relates to how the communicative abilities of the individual influences their intellectual development. The other has to do with how the individual’s perception of their own ability influences their state of mind.
International students coming to the U.S. to study often have somewhat limited language skills despite years of learning. This can impact their perception of their ability to learn the content of their university classes. Such a perception can negatively impact their experience here in the U.S.
Our relationship with international students gives us a great opportunity to encourage them. Many of the student’s perceptions might be influenced by the encouragement we give them about the adequacy of their language skills and the fact that they are so intelligent to be able to risk achieving a college degree is a second language. Could we do that? We need to appreciate and compliment their courage to attempt such a venture!
Being available as a cultural interpreter is also an important role for us as American friends. When our student friends feel free to ask any question of us, then we are a tremendous asset to them.
Principles cited in this blog: Students are often critical of their language skills, and that critical view can affect their perceptions of their ability to learn in class (despite their superior intellects). Parents of bicultural children face many difficult decisions about issues of competency and how to achieve it for their children.
Application for ISI ministry: What we say to our international student friends can make a difference in their perception of their competency and progress. Our willingness to be available for any question at any time is an important role of a friend.
Next blog topic: Report on the returnee event recently held in Asia.
Doug Shaw with Derrah Jackson