Chinese Immigration in USA
Problems of Chinese people when they move to USA
Today, the Chinese make up for five percent of the total immigrant population in the United States CITATION Bat15 p “, par. 1” l 1033 (Batalova and Hooper , par. 1). Although the situations regarding employment and standards of life have improved significantly from the first wave of Chinese immigration in the 1800s, the Chinese population in US still encounters problems in terms of social interactions and cultural differences. Migration, in and of itself, is a stressful event. By asking to adjust oneself to a new, unfamiliar environment, which might be significantly different from one’s native one, migration triggers alterations on a cultural, social, emotional and mental level. This, in turn, triggers acute stress, often defined as acculturative stress CITATION Sod95 p 123-154 l 1033 (Sodowsky, Kwan and Pannu 123-154). It refers to adjustment difficulties a person undergoes while trying to acclimatize oneself with a new culture. The response towards the differences in culture, attitudes and behaviours is often negative, and may also be characterized by deterioration in mental and physical health CITATION Ber87 p 493 l 1033 (Berry, Kim and Minde 493).
Of these, mingling with the native population is the persisting problem: social interaction, that is. The Chinese immigrants, who come to the US seeking either employment or education, seem to be reserved. Their interactions with the locals and other people hailing from various cultural backgrounds are limited, so much so that they tend to stay and mingle within their own population. The gap in interaction between Chinese immigrants and locals can be attributed to various factors, the primary of which is language and its related barriers.
Data from the US Census Bureau and the Department of Homeland Security showed that over 62% of Chinese immigrants in many states showed limited English proficiency. While 16% of all immigrants spoke English at home, only 10% of the total Chinese immigrant population did so in their own homes CITATION Bat15 p “, pars. 5-11” l 1033 (Batalova and Hooper , pars. 5-11). The frequent discrimination that comes by extension also discourages many Chinese to attempt conversing with the natives. They are often the subject of ridicule for their accent, word and verb usage, and fluency. Furthermore, the topics of conversation are often of little to no significance or comprehension to them. A Chinese student who has just settled into the atmosphere at an American university will find the commonplace topics, such as native music and TV shows, uninteresting. Thus, he or she might have difficulty contributing to the same. Thus, the immigrant population prefers interacting within itself so as to avoid ridicule and find common ground in a new nation.
This gap in interaction between Chinese immigrants and the locals, or even other immigrants hailing from different backgrounds, can also be attributed to culture shock: the former may experience cognitive and emotional dissonance upon being thrust into an environment unfamiliar to them, when compared to their own upbringing. They might feel incompatible with the natives, as if they are the odd ones out. A study conducted on forty Chinese immigrant families living in the United States uncovered loneliness due to acculturation as one of the challenges that immigrant families face on a regular basis. Many people who were living away from their spouses and families admitted to feeling depressed and lonely. A female also told the researchers that she cried every time while talking to her family in China CITATION Xie04 p 214 l 1033 (Xie, Xia and Zhou 214) .
The same study revealed that the cultural disparity between China and America did not only trigger loneliness, but also raise concerns about moral and social statuses as well. Many immigrants lost their former social status upon immigrating to the US. Before settling down in the United States, most immigrants held respectable, scholarly positions in China. After their arrival, many had to start over from scratch, working their way up the ladder even after gaining experience years of experience. The loss of social status in a new country was coupled with feelings of severe self-deprecation and embarrassment, as many of these immigrants had friends who were working at higher positions back home. Additionally, demotion to a lower position in the workplace was also considered disgraceful in their family CITATION Xie04 p 215 l 1033 (Xie, Xia and Zhou 215).
Chinese immigrants also encounter problems in terms of food, religion and related practices, events, festivals and so on. Their eating patterns, tastes, and spices differ vastly from that of the locals. It often becomes difficult for them to encounter authentic Chinese restaurants devoid of any American influence in taste. This also makes participating in social gatherings awkward and challenging.
The vast differences in cultural practices, language, and living styles of the people of both countries are the reason why Chinese immigrants prefer to socialize within their own community after moving to the US. It imparts familiarity in a new place, and makes the process of acculturation easier. Some might acclimatize and learn to interact over time, but most prefer to stay within their comfort zone, which lies with their own people.
Works Cited BIBLIOGRAPHY Batalova, Jeanne and Kate Hooper. “Chinese Immigrants in the United States.” Migration Information Source (2015). Web.
Berry, J.W., et al. “Comparative Studies of Acculturative Stress.” International Migratory Review 21 (1987): 491-511. Print.
Sodowsky, G R, K L L Kwan and R. Pannu. “Ethnic identity of Asians in the United States.” Handbook of Multicultural Counseling (1995): 123-154. Print.
Xie, Xiaolin, Yan Xia and Zhi Zhou. Strengths and Challenges in Chinese Immigrant Families. Research Paper. Lincoln: Faculty Publications, Department of Child, Youth and Family Studies, University of Nebraska – Lincoln, 2004. Print.
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