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Making and Breaking Stereotypes: East Asian International Students' Experiences with Cross-Cultural/Racial Interactions


In response to recent budget cuts and declining revenue streams, American colleges and universities are admitting larger numbers of international students. These students add a great deal of cultural and intellectual diversity to college campuses, but they also bring racial stereotypes that can affect cross-racial interaction as well as campus climate. Forty-seven interviews with Chinese, Japanese, and Korean graduate and undergraduate international students were conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles, regarding these students' racial stereotypes and how contact with diverse others challenged or reinforced these stereotypes over time. Results indicated that a majority of students had racial hierarchies, which affected with whom they roomed, befriended, and dated. American media images and a lack of cross-cultural/racial interaction in home countries led to negative views toward African-Americans and Latinos. Positive cross-racial interactions, diversity courses, and living on-campus did change negative stereotypes; however, a lack of opportunities to interact with racial out-groups, international and domestic student balkanization, and language issues led to stereotype ossification in some cases. This research shows that there is a need for policy and programmatic changes at the college level that promote international and domestic student interaction.

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