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American Friends Don't Criticize (And Other Thoughts on How Friendship Differs in China and the US)

We've talked a lot about why Chinese and American students often don't form close relationships on campus. We've asked whether one side or the other is to blame, which cultural differences might have an impact, and even whether the admissions process has a role to play in improving relationships.

Dandan, who is from China and coming to the end of a one-year exchange program in the U.S., has her own opinions on the matter. Her close friendships at school have mostly been with other Asian students, but its her close relationship with American friend Maya that is most revealing as to where some of the cultural differences lie.

Listen to our candid discussion as Dandan discusses why she prefers the concept of friendship in China, and what she's learned about friendship in America. Do you agree with her ideas on friendship? Can the cultural differences be overcome?

Or listen to the mp3

UPDATE: Friend of the blog Homayoon asked on Facebook why we have been giving so much attention to this topic of relationships between Chinese and American students. It's a valid question. This was my response:

A couple of reasons. First of all just because I think it is interesting. But also because the population of Chinese students studying in America has gone up dramatically in recent years and is still rising, and as a result this issue has become a really prominent one for schools and students. How to make sure that Chinese students adjust well to studying in the US? How to make sure that American students are learning from their Chinese classmates? And what Qian asked, how to be sure that fair admissions standards are being applied to both groups? These are all suddenly very important questions.

I think also, though, that this question of whether friendship is a different idea between different cultures is much broader than China. It might be most prominent for Chinese students, but it applies to everyone (even between Americans and Americans, as you'll hear me talk about if you watch the video), so it's interesting to talk about.