Control? Open Channel C!*

JISHOU, HUNAN — There are almost a quarter million Chinese studying in the USA now, and many more who want to study in the States if they had the chance — my students among them.

But a Chinese (or really any international) student coming to the USA faces a lot of challenges: the language barrier, the writing barrier, cultural differences, different attitudes about dating and sex. I do my best to explain the differences, but my experience as a college student was three decades ago. So, my information is perhaps somewhat out of date.

A few months ago, I stumbled upon Channel C. Three Chinese students studying at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Pan Fangdi 潘芳迪, Niu Muge 牛牧歌 and Cecilia Miao 缪思 (Miao Si), began the project in an effort to bridge the cultural gaps between Chinese students and their non-Chinese classmates. They have their own YouTube channel and also one on YouKu, the Chinese version of YouTube.

Although the three are now in different cities in the US and China, they still manage with the help of team members Ye Du 叶杜 and Stephanie Sykes to produce cogent and interesting videos about career advice, dating advice, language learning, EDM raves, study habits and other topics of interest to Chinese students studying in America and to American students wishing to understand the Chinese better.

One recent one addressed an issue peculiar to China: the stigma against women pursuing Ph.D. degrees. Ye interviewed two young Chinese women studying at UW-Madison and the three discussed the “double standard” in China that says men can get Ph.D.’s but women who do so are wasting their youth — and throwing away their prospects of getting married. The two feel no such bias in America, however.

I like these videos because they address some real concerns among my students considering life abroad, and get to the heart of the matter frankly and usefully. That the producers are much closer in age to my students is an added, and very important benefit. I’ve shared several of their videos on my social media accounts in China. Though the dialogs are predominantly in English (very good English, I must say!), every episode has English and Chinese subtitles.

Aside from that, I admire their passion for bridging the gap between cultures and helping us all learn a little more about one another. You can pick up that passion after watching a few of their videos.

In fact, I like Channel C so much that I’ve become a patron — their second! — by pledging $1 for each video. Moreover, I’m asking that if you want to support their nascent video production company, that you will also become a patron. It’s easy. Go to this link at Patreon.com and pledge whatever you like, even $1. Pan, Muge and Cecilia are still students and pay all Channel C expenses out of their own pockets, so any extra money will be cheerfully accepted.

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* As for the headline, it’s a reference to an old TV show. Details are at IMDB and Wikipedia There’s a movie planned for 2015, starring Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer. Baby boomer flick, for sure.

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