Oberlin Chapter of GCC Launches Cross-Cultural Blog

Abby Collier

The Oberlin chapter of the nonpartisan organization Global China Connection recently launched a new cross-cultural blog to address cultural complexities encountered by students engaging in global interaction.

According to the GCC website, the mission of the organization is to “connect future leaders from all nations and assist them in developing the skills and friendships necessary to succeed both in China and internationally.” The Oberlin chapter of the GCC organization was started in the summer of 2009 when Eric Hardy, OC ’91, presented the idea to GCC’s director of network expansion, Mark Stothers.

Terence Hsieh, double-degree fifth-year and GCC Oberlin leader, sees the mission of GCC shifting toward a more academic approach to the study of China, rather than just serving as a networking tool.

The Oberlin chapter of the GCC has also altered its mission to better cater to the student body’s interest in getting involved in China. The chapter’s initial mission was to connect Oberlin students with the GCC network and resources through interests common to both Chinese and American students such as environmental studies and green energy. However, the lack of a specialized chair to supervise the group’s ventures made this goal challenging.

“In the academic world,” said Hsieh, “China and environmental studies is a very particular cross-departmental area that is difficult to study without a specialized chair.”

Because of this, GCC Oberlin decided to generalize its mission and instead focus on connecting students interested in Chinese-American relations to the GCC international network. This in turn led to the creation of a cross-cultural blog.

The goal of the blog is to provide a platform for Chinese and American students to ask questions and explain cultural ambiguities and customs, such as, “Why do Americans like guns so much?”; “What is the cultural significance of chewing gum in American culture?”; and “What is a personal question in Chinese culture?” GCC Oberlin members hope that the blog may also encourage more students to decide to study abroad in China.

“Traditionally, students studying abroad have to figure out cultural differences by themselves,” said Hsieh. “This blog will allow them to pose these questions to people of those backgrounds that are best suited to answer.”

However, the difficulty of trying to find participants to write for the blog has revealed one of these cultural differences between Chinese and American students.

“Chinese people are not always interested in sharing their personal opinions,” said Hsieh, “but [they are] definitely open and willing to read others’ opinions, [and] they are much more likely to quote statistics than give a personal opinion.”

The blog marks the beginning of Oberlin’s relationship with the wider GCC network, and serves as another avenue for those interested in Chinese culture to find resources to further exploration.

Samsun Knight, a College sophomore and member of the Oberlin chapter of GCC, said that he looks forward to using the blog to help him “understand and process the culture shock and keep a record so upon return I’ll be able to reflect on my experience.”