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在线翻译:
szdaily -> In depth
Chinese students, parents share concerns over campus safety
    2017-July-18  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

WHEN a promising young scholar went missing in a university town in the middle of America, it sent shockwaves throughout China.

The June 9 disappearance of Zhang Yingying, a 26-year-old Chinese visiting scholar at the University of Illinois (U. of I.) at Urbana-Champaign — who was missing for three weeks before a man was arrested June 30 in connection with her alleged kidnapping — has had a ripple effect on campus as well as thousands of miles away, where concern isn’t just limited to worried parents.

Newspapers and social media in China have quoted concerned citizens saying the “lack of gun control in America” and “inefficient” police work make it a dangerous place for students, and outspoken Chinese parents have said they will reconsider sending their children to the United States.

Zhang’s family arrived in the United States June 17, according to reports, and has been staying in on-campus housing. Well-wishers have donated more than US$115,000 to defray their living expenses while the investigation continues. Before the arrest, her father, Zhang Ronggao, was quoted by the Beijing Youth Daily as saying, “Once my daughter is found, I will never let her visit the U.S. again.”

Brendt Christensen, 28, a former U. of I. doctoral candidate in physics, was arrested by the FBI on suspicion of kidnapping and appeared in court July 3. Zhang has not been found and, in a federal complaint filed June 30, the FBI said she is presumed dead based on evidence related to Christensen’s arrest.

Alice Zheng, Sophia Ma and Helen Li recently arrived in Champaign to complete summer internships. All three are students at Peking University, where Zhang also studied before coming to the University of Illinois.

The trio said news about Zhang emerged right as they were getting ready to come to the United States, rattling perceptions about how safe the country is and sparking intense concern among their parents.

“They call me three times a day to make sure I’m safe,” said Ma, 21.

“Before this incident, we think Champaign is a quiet, beautiful and safe place,” said Zheng, also 21. “Now we even don’t want to go out after 7, or 6. We don’t think that’s safe.”

Back home in Beijing, they said the chatter among their classmates and throughout the country is about whether Zhang was targeted because she was Chinese.

Ma said she doubted that, noting police previously said there were reports of the car Zhang was last seen in circling the area before approaching her.

To allay their own fears, and those of their parents, the women said they pledged to avoid going anywhere alone while they are in town. On Sunday, for example, Zheng wanted to look at an Airbnb listing in town but refused to go alone. Ma and Li joined her, then stopped for ice cream.

“We’ll go to places together,” Li said.

Elizabeth Chan, 21, a senior originally from Boston, said she, too, had friends frantically checking on her safety soon after police announced the investigation into Zhang’s disappearance.

“One of my friends who lives in town texted me asking, ‘Are you alive?’ I was like, it’s 9 a.m., I’m not even awake. Why are you texting me so early?” Chan said, chuckling. Still, she said she understood the reaction, particularly among international students on campus.

U. of I. enrolled about 5,600 Chinese undergraduate and graduate students in the fall 2016 term, according to university data.

“It has scared a lot of people,” Chan said. “I can understand for international students the need to be reassured that this is actually a safe space.”

If Chinese parents fear for their children’s safety and refuse to send them to the United States, there’s more at stake for institutions of higher learning than diversity.

According to the Brookings Institution, in the five-year period from 2008 through 2012, foreign students pursuing bachelor’s degrees spent US$21.8 billion in tuition alone and contributed US$12.8 billion in other spending in the same time frame. In Urbana-Champaign, which had almost 60 foreign students per 1,000, that worked out to be more than US$427 million in tuition and another US$200 million in living costs during those five years, Brookings Institution data show.

The Global Times said Zhang’s case has triggered heated discussion in China on students’ safety, with many parents who were planning to send their children to study in the United States saying they will “reconsider their decision.”

“I was considering to send my children to the United States before Zhang’s case. But now I have ruled the United States out of my list because it is not safe; for example, the country has no gun control,” a parent in Southwest China’s Yunnan Province told the Global Times.

On SinaWeibo, a social media platform, comments included:

• “Strongly suggest that all students who want to study in the States buy guns first.”

• “After hearing so much news about Chinese people going missing in the States, I can’t help thinking American policemen are impotent.”

• “Don’t understand why people would want to go to the States, since its public security is terrible.”

On China’s popular Q&A website, Zhihu, a question trending over the past two weeks asks older Chinese students what their younger peers can do to ensure their personal safety during their stateside studies. Among the most popular answers: buy a car, and always research how safe the neighborhood is before renting a house or apartment.

Rory Grimes, director of student admissions at EBF International, an education consulting company in Shanghai, told the Shanghai-based Sixth Tone that from his experience, a chief concern among Chinese people is the view that guns make the United States less safe, though he attributes this to a lack of understanding. Whenever the subject is broached, he likes to remind his clients that they’re moving to America, not Mogadishu.

“A lot of it comes from the America they see on TV shows,” Grimes said. “But this is not a mirror of society. Their lives will be more ‘Big Bang Theory’ than ‘The Wire.’”

Over the last decade, China’s education ministry has expanded its nationwide “safe study abroad” pre-departure training program. In 2016, more than 38,000 “State-sponsored scholars” attended orientation programs held in 34 Chinese cities.

This year’s program is centered around four themes: “thoughts and values,” such as patriotic education, Chinese cultural mores, and revolutionary tradition; “policies,” such as how to get a foreign diploma recognized in China and how to start a business upon returning home; “skills and knowledge,” such as overseas customs and safety precautions; and “country-specific,” dealing with how to adapt in different study abroad destinations.

Host institutions and their international student groups often provide their own orientation sessions for incoming international students and generally tend to have more resources at their disposal when it comes to protecting students.

As a public university with a student population of nearly 45,000, the University of Illinois has round-the-clock university police, trained student patrol officers who carry police radios and provide walking escorts upon request, and over 1,000 on-campus security cameras.

However, smaller universities sometimes take a different tack when it comes to safety.

“We watched some skits warning us about unprotected sex and doping at parties,” Li Shiyue, a recent graduate of Harvey Mudd College in California, told Sixth Tone. “We also had to pass online quizzes on the illegal use of guns and drugs.”

Bai Yunpeng, a junior at Carleton College in Minnesota, reported an even more bare-bones approach: “We were given a whistle and two condoms,” he said.

(SD-Agencies)

 

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