Yiwen Niu

Yiwen Niu

As an international student from China studying in the U.S., I often have a strong feeling that I am invisible on my college campus. The biggest student-run newspaper is called The Alligator. I read it almost every day to catch up with the current happenings of Gainesville. I am amazed to read news stories which I could never have come across in China like the public criticism of the President of The University of Florida, etc. However, I have never noticed any articles about Chinese students. I decode it as a kind of symbolic annihilation. The number of Chinese students in American Universities is increasing year after year and this lack of representation is appalling.

 

I am also haunted by a feeling of isolation even just walking on campus. It is very hard to see any groups composed of different colors. People tend to stick to what’s familiar. The Chinese students are one of the largest minority student groups on campus, but by relying on the Chinese Student Association and communicating through our own social media platform, we tend to isolate ourselves from the rest. Actually, these invisible walls are everywhere on campus. The lack of exchange of ideas, opinions, and experiences also makes it very easy to completely forget about certain groups of people in the mainstream culture. I tried very hard to not be a part of this kind of New Segregation. I pushed myself to improve my English and made friends from different countries. I challenged myself daily and went out of my comfort zone every time. This gave me a renewed sense of self, and finally, I believed that I broke the stereotype and the identity embedded in me by the public. But this feeling was evanescent, something happened to remind me who I am and how the outside world perceives me.Duke University news totally shocked me. It is not wrong for professors to wish that foreign students improve their English. However, punishing students who speak Chinese inside an academic building is beyond comprehension. I came to this country to embrace its diversity rather than the idea of cultural hegemony.  I can sense somehow a stereotype toward minority groups inside the so-called ivory tower. If it is the case, I cannot imagine how strong this plausible stereotype would be in the real world.

 

The same happens in China. As a journalist in China before, I witnessed how certain reporting topics like Tiananmen Square Protest have been banned by Chinese government. As a result, this period of precious historical memory has been erased in the young generation’s brain. Also, the prohibition of religion topics made Chinese’s mind biased toward religion. My greatest ambition for being a journalist is to break public stereotypes and question the common-sense beliefs and opinions. As an international student, language is one of the biggest barriers and honestly, I did hesitate a bit to apply for this internship. However, I finally decided to apply because of the realization of the identity that I belong to, which is something I cannot hide, and because of my true powerful passion for journalism and my belief that a journalist’s perspective can shape the views of millions of readers. I feel obliged to report about the diverse minority groups in America. I am eager to explore and pick up their stories not only so that general American readers can be made aware of “their” existence but also so that minority group members can have a greater sense of inclusiveness. "