Monday, August 17, 2015

New Film Dispels Stereotypes of Chinese Students in the U.S.

Yi Liu stars as Xiaotong in "Study Abroad 2." Courtesy of Cathy Jiang.
By Jordan Friedman
World Education Services

When it comes to Chinese students in the U.S., a stereotype often portrayed in the media is that “if you can afford to study abroad, you must be coming from a rich family,” says Cathy Jiang, producer of the new short film “Study Abroad 2: The Daydreaming Bunny.”

In many cases, that stereotype is misleading and inaccurate, Jiang told WES Student Advisor. 

“We can’t say all study abroad students are from rich families, and we also can’t say that they aren’t studying hard,” she says.

Those misconceptions inspired Jiang to produce “Study Abroad” (available to watch online here), and its sequel, which premiered July 31 at the JCC Manhattan in New York.

In “Study Abroad 2,” director Yung-Jen Yang tells the story of Xiaotong, a Chinese printmaking student who struggles to raise money for her graduation art exhibit by crowdfunding and selling her work on the street. She aims to win her mother’s acceptance by demonstrating her true talent and potential despite the hardships she faces.

“It’s a pleasure for me to present the film in front of a large audience in New York City,” says Jiang, who came to the United States from China in 2010 to pursue her MBA at Fordham University. “I like being able to relate to the audience. I can see them in front of me; I can talk to them and give them feedback directly.”

Cathy Jiang
Jiang says she believes media stereotypes about Asian students in the U.S. are often inaccurate. She points to a 2012 incident during which two Chinese international students at the University of Southern California were fatally shot in a robbery near the school’s campus. Because they were driving a BMW at the time, Chinese media instantly described the students as flaunting their wealth – though it was a second-hand car with 80,000 miles on it. It turned out the students didn’t come from affluent families.

Jiang says the stories in her films are based on true events. Xiaotong’s journey was inspired in part by Jiang’s own efforts to raise money for a film tour.

“I know how hard it is,” she says of the process.

She hopes that other international students in the U.S. can relate to the film as they undergo similar challenges and misunderstandings after arriving in a foreign country.

“I hope they can feel that this is a story about their own life,” Jiang says.

Watch the film on YouTube.

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