Bias Busters: How Asian students contribute to America

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Bias Busters

FROM WAYNE BAKER: This week, we welcome Joe Grimm, editor of the Michigan State University School of Journalism’s series of guides to cultural competence.

100 Q&A Asians front cover

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An international student who came to the United States this week for a summer educational program sent a question to the program’s director. Her suitcase was full, she wrote, and she is used to having a stuffed animal to help her sleep. She asked if she could buy one in the city where she would be staying.

When she arrived, she found a new stuffed animal in her room. The program director noted that the toy, like the student, had both come from China.

It seems like most things we buy in the United States are made in China. It is absolute fact that many people studying in our colleges and universities are from China. Education has become a top U.S. export, but it is the kind of export that one must come here to obtain—and it takes years to acquire.

According to the Institute for International Education, “International students make up slightly under four percent of total student enrollment at the graduate and undergraduate level combined. International students’ spending in all 50 states contributed approximately $24 billion to the U.S. economy.”

In April, the U.S. Student and Exchange Visitor Program reported that, for the first time, international students enrolled in the United States had exceeded 1 million.

Three quarters of the international students in the United States were from Asia and 29 percent were from China, like the student with the stuffed animal.

International enrollment is significant at Michigan State University, where the Bias Busters guides are produced.

Students in an international advertising class produced “100 Questions and Answers About East Asian Cultures” to help Americans understand their peers from overseas. The group included Americans and students from China, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

Their guide answers questions about culture, communication, food, religion and money. Students said they learned from publishing the guide and from working with each other.

Do you think international enrollment hurts or helps U.S. students? Why?

Should the U.S. make it easier for international students educated here to stay and work?

JOE GRIMM is visiting editor in residence at the Michigan State University School of Journalism and editor of the Bias Busters guides to cultural competence. He spent more than 25 years at the Detroit Free Press, 18 of them as its recruiter. You can read more about the series on its website at:

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