Notice circulating on social media shows 47 students from abroad took partand were each matched with three Chinese, most of them female
A university in eastern China on Friday apologised over an interculturalprogramme to match foreign and local students of the opposite sex on campus,after it prompted a flood of criticism online.Shandong University, in the cityof Jinan, said in its apology that it would conduct a thorough review of its“Buddy Programme”, which was introduced in 2016.“There has been a lot ofdiscussion on the internet about our ‘Buddy Programme’,” the university said ina statement on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter. “We deeply regret thenegative influence of this ... we failed to do a proper job and included‘making foreign acquaintances of the opposite sex’ as an option in theprogramme application,” it said. “We are grateful for all the criticism and suggestions of friends whohave expressed their views on the internet and for them caring about ShandongUniversity,” the statement said, adding that the university would learn fromits mistakes.But it said the programme was only aimed at encouraging studentsto “learn culturally and academically” from each other. The controversy eruptedthis week when a notice issued by the university last year was circulated onWeibo. It said the university had paired 141 Chinese students with 47 foreignstudents, mainly of the opposite sex, under the “Buddy Programme”.
That notice has since been removed from the university’s website, but acached version shows that every one of the 47 foreigners taking part – fromcountries including Pakistan, Kenya, Yemen and Nepal – was matched with threeChinese students, most of them female.
The notice was met with uproar online, with hundreds of people questioningwhy a university needed to help match up foreign students with members of theopposite sex.“There are many ways to promoteintercultural communications, but what Shandong University has done willinevitably lead to problems and may even cause dangers,” one person wrote onWeibo. Another said: “Nocountry takes care of Chinese students this way, so why can’t we just treatforeign students in China equally? Why should we treat them like they aregods?”But some Shandong University students weighed in to defend the programme,saying they were keen for any opportunity they could get to improve their English. “We are victims of a social mediaoutcry. We have few English-speaking international students in our universitybut everyone hopes to improve their spoken English,” one Chinese student wroteon Weibo. “I don’t see any problem with three Chinese students pairing up withone international student. It’s inevitable because the demand exceeds thesupply.” Universitiesin China offer generous scholarships and grants to attract foreign students,especially those from developing countries. According to education ministrystatistics, there were 492,185 international students studying in China lastyear, with 60 per cent of them coming from Asia. South Korea, Thailand andPakistan were the top three countries. Some 63,041 of those students were onfull scholarships from the Chinese government, while others received grantsfrom local governments or their universities.
I completely understand it. The Chinese language is almost impossible tolearn. NO ALPHABET, difficult to learn the characters, so hard to memorize,takes so much time. One person as a "buddy" is not going to get aforeigner to learn the language very well. That one Chinese person doesn't havethat kind of time. Why NOT spread the load over three people? Otherwise, NOPROGRESS MUCH. Justlike apps like HELLO TALK, you spread this load of helping people over manypeople. a BUDDY system where one person doesn't get so over burdened with thewhole thing.People getting BENT out of shape and making this about sex andharems. It's not. try and learn a difficult language and culture before youspeak.
I was a student at Xiamen University learning Chinese. I think the buddysystem is a great idea. I wish I had it. As for the opposite vs same sex issue,I think it does not matter. The article stated nothing about the sextionprocess other than mainly female. I think a good way to do the sextion is a"mixer" where any native student can attend and have the sextion benaturally. The students them selves create the buddies. Then the sex of thegroup is not an issue.
Who’s the idiot that came up with that idea? He/she should be fired. Anybuddy system should be with someone of the same sex.
@marshall If I were a student, and being a man, I would certainly be moreinterested in being a "buddy" with a female. Why would you want toimpose an elementary school format onto a college age person? Do you think thata 20 year old is some child that needs to wear a uniform and only associatewith the same gender? Your ideas wouldmake life very dull.
I can't help but think that some of the concern over this program has todo with roots in xenophobia. I mean, Marshall here is ascribing all that ispredatory in men (or women) to one who is a "foreigner" on a collegecampus. That's just nuts, because we know there are just as many Chinese men(and women) who engage in sexism or predatory behavior, it is a universalthing, and not something that "foreigners" do.
There is BENEFIT to having international interactions at universities.Programs to engender this are GOOD. The universities in the US are LOADED withinternational students from all over the world. I can see why China is tryingto attract more of the same to their universities, and they are going to haveto go the extra mile to make it attractive, because there are not manyuniversities now in China where credits can transfer to say, Harvard, Stanford,MIT, Yale, or any one of numerous universities there. The standard all aroundneeds to lift. Why fault a university that is trying to become moreinternational?