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WeChat Red Bags: How International Students from China Use Social Media While Attending a Public University in California


The growth of international students in the United States and in California substantiates the need to understand the experiences and behaviors of these migratory populations (Institute of International Education, Inc., 2014). In 2014-2015, international students from China in California represented 34% of the higher education population, leading the countries of origin for the state. The purpose of this study is to provide understanding of how international students from China use social media to pursue 'local' Chinese culture in the global context. More specifically, this paper illustrates how Chinese international students engage in the social network site activity, WeChat Red Bags, which utilizes both traditional symbolism and novel features, to participate in native Chinese tradition. Utilizing qualitative, participant-centered methods of data collection and analysis, the findings demonstrate how the students' use of WeChat Red Bags engages dimensions of their 'local' Chinese traditional culture.

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