October 31, 2011

CAA Trip to Chinatown Boston

Sebastian Andersson
International Business, 2012

Johnson & Wales University students at Chinatown Boston

            Friday, October 28th, the Community Actions Association arranged a trip to Boston with American and International students, predominantly the International students were from China. The purpose of the trip was to bridge the gap between Chinese and American students and discuss possible action plans to decrease the segregation we see today at Johnson & Wales University. All nationalities tend to spend a lot of time with people from the same country, what can we do to make us commingle? 
When we first gathered in the waiting area in the train station not many of us had met before. We introduced ourselves to each other but few of us actually remembered names for later on. The first actual part of the event was at the train. The commuter rail’s brown leather seats and overhead storage made out of steal makes the setting a stiff one. The noise from the train does not invite to start conversations with people that you have not met before. On the train we were 15 students, three faculty members, and a variety of other passengers.
Following the departure from the platform we all introduced ourselves briefly before icebreaking activities soon commenced to break the boundaries. The first one was a very simple but effective one, speed networking. We were supposed to introduce our selves to as many others as possible and exchange contact information if so desired. These short conversations gave all students another identity than only their nationality. Some were sports freaks, some were fashionistas and we had a broadcasting professional.
Upon the arrival to Boston South Station we headed for Chinatown. As soon as we entered “Chinese territory” the Chinese students started to act as group leaders. The usually more reserved Chinese students told everybody where to go and what we were experiencing. It was clear that they felt more comfortable. This was great for everybody because conversations started as a result of this and we really started to get to know each other.
We conducted a social experiment at one of the little shops where a Chinese lady sold fabrics and other items. There was a golden frog sitting on top of coins that we wondered how much it would cost. An American student approached her and she said $300, when a Chinese student asked the same question she said $200. To experience this first hand was something we all enjoyed, even though some Chinese student thought it was embarrassing.
After strolling around in Chinatown for about an hour we all went to a Chinese restaurant and it was interesting to see that we automatically did not sit down in clusters of nationalities but were fairly mixed. We could talk to the person sitting next to us about things you can talk about with whoever. Questions like major, year and interests were asked back and forth.
The trip to Chinatown with students from four continents is a more culturally diverse group than one can imagine. Even though we all are more or less adjusted to the American society our roots are noticeable. It was a fun trip that worked as the start in a process to make domestic and International students more relaxed with each other. In the end we hope there will be no more groups on campus based on nationality.