The issue of Native American students making friends with international students has become a contentious one. Some researchers such as Julian Mark claim that international students do not make any effort to make friends with Native American students beyond the interaction they have at classes (Mark, 2013). Other researchers such as Park claim that Native American students do not show any interest in making friends with international students (Park, 2012). Some Native American students have accepted the fact that they do not make any effort to make friends with international students (Stahl, 2012). On the other hand, some international students have accepted the fact that they are intimidated by cultural differences. Different factors such as language barrier, different interests and values as well as inadequate time to socialize have been cited as some of the reasons that hamper effective interaction between international and American students (Redden, 2013). In spite of all these facts, previous studies acknowledge the fact that there are immense benefits that come along with international students. In this respect, interaction between local and international students should be treasured if USA and international students are to reap these benefits (Park, 2012).
In this mini research, I have chosen to focus my attention on the criteria that students both local and international use in choosing their close friends. My curiosity in this area is to establish whether the criteria affect the way international students interact with local students. The research question evaluated in this mini research is do local students use the same criterion as international students use in choosing close friends? What are the effects of the criteria? To help answer these two questions, the research has two interviewees. One interviewee is of international origin while the other interviewee is of the American origin. The two interviewees are male. The international student comes from Thailand. In terms of age, both interviewees are in their early twenties. Key findings from this study indicate that international and local students use different criteria when choosing close friends. The paper argues that these criteria affect the way international and local students interact.
Analysis of the issue
Previous studies in this area of interest have established that both international students and local students use different criteria when choosing their close friends. A study by Julian Mark establishes that Chinese students tend to maintain close relationships among them rather than make friends with American students (Mark, 2013). Another study by Jessica Stahl establishes that American students tend to distance themselves from international students because they do not understand how they can benefit from them (Stahl, 2012). Although these studies cover my area of interest, they do not tell us how these differences affect the way both local and international students choose their close friends. This mini research tries to show how the criteria affect the interaction between international and local students.
In relation to the differences in choosing close friends, previous studies have established that international students do not mingle with American students relative well. According to Park (2012), although international students would like to interact with American students, about 40 percent of these students do not have close American friends. Another study by Elizabeth Redden establishes that although international students interact relatively with local students, the interaction is relatively limited. In fact, from an interview with forty international students, Redden established that only one international student had a close relationship with an American student (Redden, 2013). This indicates that something hampers the way international and local students interact.
As an alternative to previous studies, the researcher designed a unique questionnaire and interviewed two students; one international student and the other a Native American student using the said questionnaire. The questionnaire sought to establish the criteria that students use when choosing close friends, the length of time it takes before they choose close friends and the barriers the students encounter when choosing close friends. With regard to these questions, the international student said that a person can be his friend so long as that person accepts his weaknesses and appreciates his strengths. The student also said that there is no definite time that a person can take to be his close friend, but he insisted that the person should be there to help him in time of need. In spite of this fact, the student acknowledges the fact that majority of international students tend to keep to themselves rather than make friends with American students (Mark, 2013). In contrast to international student, my American interviewee said that he does not have a definite criterion for choosing a close friend. When I asked this interviewee the most eminent barrier for making friends with international students, this interviewee cited the tendency of international students keeping to themselves and never opening up to strangers (Redden, 2013). With regard to the length of time that a person can take to be a close friend to this interviewee, the interviewee did not have a definite time.
From a general viewpoint, majority of the international students look for close friends that can be there for them during the times of difficulties. At the same time, they want people that can appreciate them the way they are. On the contrary, American students do not have a definite criterion for choosing close friends, but they cannot reach out to international students because most of them distance themselves from them. In this regard, if local universities together with Americans in general are to benefit from the high number of international students in our universities, then we should acknowledge the fact that American students and international students use different criteria in choosing close friends. In addition, we should acknowledge the fact that these differing criteria affect the way both groups of students interact. If we do this, then we would work towards improving the interaction between the two groups; thus, help them appreciate one another.
Mark, J. (2013). International students struggle to make friends. Retrieved from http://www.dvcinquirer.com/news/2013/11/13/international-students-struggle-to-make-friends/
Park, M. (2012). Trouble making friends in America. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/college_guide/blog/trouble_making_friends_in_amer.php
Redden, E. (2013). Strangers in a strange land. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/03/04/international-educators-consider-challenges-integrating-students-abroad
Stahl, J. (2012). Why aren’t Americans and international students becoming friends? Retrieved from http://blogs.voanews.com/student-union/2012/06/19/why-aren%E2%80%99t-americans-and-international-students-becoming-friends/