Culture tops pressures for Asian students

A recent number of suicides among Asians at Cornell University due to pressure from issues like parents or culture prompt the question of whether such stress effects Asian SHSU students as well.Of the 13 students who have committed suicide at Cornell since 1996, six of them were males of Asian decent. Four of those were international students. An article from the school paper said that pressure on the students to succeed in a competitive institution could have contributed to the reason why the students committed suicide.Henry Maddux, assistant professor of operations management, is the advisor to the SHSU’s Chinese Student Association. He said that Asian students who tend to take computer-oriented courses and research positions tend to face the most pressure.”A lot of Asian students in the technical field face a lot of pressure,” said Maddux.Maddux is a graduate of University of Texas where he had many Asian colleagues, and said students coming from Asia can face extra pressure to succeed in an already stressful environment.”Cultural norm of academic achievement permeates that entire region of the world,” said Maddux.Maddux added that from his experience, Chinese students in particular are under immense pressure to succeed.”The standard of excellence in academic performance is very high in their coming from China,” he said. “They bring that pressure to succeed with them.”Maddux also said that the suicide rate at Cornell was high, and most likely the result of the intense research atmosphere at the university, with many students competing with each other. Maddux added homesickness can be another stress factor international students can face.Freshman Mami Neo, an international student from Japan, is a theater major and said her parents were both very supportive of her choice of a major.”They like theater, and they said go,” said Neo.Neo also said that she liked SHSU and felt the atmosphere at the university was very comfortable. Still, she said that she might transfer to another university because she really wants to be a film major.While she said that she didn’t have many problems adjusting to America, Neo said the difference in culture could be frustrating for other Asian students.”I think Japanese don’t have many problems with the American culture, because they are both very close,” she said. “I think students coming from Taiwan or China or Thailand could have pressure, because the culture is very different.””Some students from Thailand or China have told me, ‘I miss home’,” said NeoAt Cornell, junior Jennifer Fang, president of the Asian Pacific Americans for Action, said parental stress could cause in extra amount of pressure for Asian-American students.In an article for the Cornell Daily Sun, she said that students having problems with their choice of a major may not relate their problems well with campus-based programs to combat stress at Cornell such as Empathy, Assistance and Referral Services and Counseling and Psychology Services.”Students who approach EARS or CAPS with the problem that they dislike their major may be simply encouraged to switch majors in defiance to their parents’ wishes,” said Fang. “An Asian-American student, however, may not feel that this is a possible course of action as another student might.”Computer science major Lisa Smith, an American student of Chinese origin, is working towards her doctorate at Texas A&M. She graduated from high school at 16, and said that her mother was the one that suggested her major.”I wouldn’t have chosen it for myself if I had been older,” said Smith.Smith said that her parents did not placed any negative pressure on her during her education.”I feel pressure that I put on myself, but nothing from outside forces,” she said.Smith added that her sister chose to major in psychology, a field that her parents would not have chosen for her, but that her parents never told her she couldn’t do it, either. She also said that the pressure parents place on their children to seek a particular field is intended for the child’s benefit.”All Asian parents intentions are good, but hopefully with my kids I’ll encourage them to really know what they want to,” said Smith. “To pursue their goals.”

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