Students deal with stereotypes while celebrating their Asian cultures

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At Michigan State University, 5.8 percent students at the university are of an Asian heritage, according to the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives 2015-16 annual report on diversity. That’s about 2,500 students.

To understand what it’s like to be from an Asian racial background at Michigan State University, we interviewed three Asian American students — Sho Nakashima, Annie Chen, and Sarah Vang — and a student from China, Lei Xu.

“For me, the most personally upsetting has been the stereotype that Asian immigrant families are privileged and wealthy,” said Nakashima, an MSU graduate who studied social relations and policy and neuroscience. He is a first-generation American. His parents are from Japan.

“People just believe that because you look Asian, then you are not from here,” said Vang, who is Hmong.

Chen, who is study psychology and plans to be a nurse, said her parents’ traditional Chinese values have had a great impact on her life.

”I think I am different from other people,” she said.

Xu, a mechanical engineering student, said he spends most of his time with Chinese students.

“Staying with the same ethnic people, for me, will make me feel more comfortable,” he said.

Baolian Qin, an associate professor of the department of Human Development and Family Studies in Michigan State University, studies cultural issues and is interested in the mental health of high-achieving Asian-American students.

“There is a tendency for students to choose peers who are similar to them. This is true for all ethnic or racial groups,” Qin said.

“Research shows that friendship with the same ethnic peers can buffer against negative impact of racism or discrimination for immigrant and minority students.

“However, staying with people who are from the same ethnic group can also limit their opportunities to interact with other peers. Research also shows that co-ethnic peers also have negative influence on students if within-group bullying occurs or when students are involved in gangs together.”