Cultural Assumptions: Who are Stanford students?

With the International freshmen arriving, today, I thought that I’d share some demographic information that I received at Adviser Orientation yesterday.

In the incoming class of 2014, 8.4% are international students, coming from 55 different countries. There are approximately 24 students from China, 24 from Korea, 18 from Singapore, 11 from the U.K., 8 from India, 7 from Thailand, and then a few from about 50 other countries.

Clearly, at least until Farm mentality assimilates everyone, Stanford itself is a site of cross-cultural interactions.  Many of our CCR classes here attract a lot of international students, and one amusing side effect of that is that when we have video exchanges with other universities across the world, sometimes they are surprised that the Stanford students they encounter via video conferencing aren’t “stereotypically” American.  They might be just as likely to find themselves working with Stanford CCR students from Kenya, China, and England as from Chicago, Boise, and Los Angeles.  This surprise often produces some beneficial discussions — especially when our students likewise come away from a connection with Australia surprised that they hadn’t been talking to a blond, surfer Crocodile Dundee wanna-be.

Moments like those are great for starting conversations about what exactly ARE our cultural expectations, stereotypes, and assumptions and how the reality of an increasingly globalized society destabilizes them.

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