An Exploration of Chinese International Students’ Resilience Through Their Experiences
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Much research about the adaptation of Chinese international students focuses on challenges and stresses they experience in their adjustment to the host country, a perspective that is largely negative and pessimistic (Yeh & Inose, 2003). Although resilience, highly congruent with positive psychology and broadly defined as successful adaptation to adversity, has been studied among several populations, it has not been widely applied to these students. This study employs the cultural-contextual theoretical framework of resilience to gain an understanding of the resilience of 16 Chinese international students by examining: (1) How do these Chinese international students view challenges? (2) What resources do these Chinese students view as helpful in overcoming challenges? (3) How have their individual identities been negotiated and transformed? (4) What are their subjective views of success? The interviews revealed four leading challenges for these Chinese international students across different contexts: English, loneliness, relationships, and academic challenges. The participants identified intrinsic and extrinsic, cultural, and contextual resources they perceived helpful and important for them in overcoming challenges. They additionally described their transformed identities in personal, social, and cultural dimensions. The study revealed students’ patterns of navigation and negotiation, and their personal views on success, views that were dramatically different from what they saw as traditional Chinese success. This study expands the conceptualization of resilience from a cross-cultural to a more contextual understanding. This understanding might be helpful to provide more efficient assistance, build more effective intercultural communication, or even design more updated intervention programs for Chinese international students.