Oct 082008
 
Authors: Johnny Hart

In hopes to dispel the myths of dating, family and freedoms in the U.S., three student panelists answered questions from eight international students Wednesday in the Lory Student Center.

Students from Asia, Africa and Europe listened as junior human development and family studies major Dayna Wortham, senior communications studies major Erica Lobato and senior psychology major Alisha Zellner offered their opinions on current American culture.

“Half the time I learn from other people,” Zellner said. “It’s an opportunity to grow in diversity.”

Lobato said the international students have certain images of Americans, and the panel allowed the students to decide on what to think about the culture.

Jenn Christ, the program coordinator for the Office of International Programs, said that during orientation for international students, the students said, “We want to know more about what Americans think.”

Several audience members ask questions about issues they found different to their culture.

One student from China had several questions, including the following: Do men pay during dates? How much pressure do parents put on their children to do well in school? And what do students do if they don’t attend college?

“In my opinion, it’s the person who asks the other individual out who should pay,” Zellner said. “Let’s say I ask a gentleman out: I would pay for the evening, because I was the one who did the asking.”

When the question regarding parental pressure was answered, the Chinese audience member responded by saying she felt as if the panelists were “lucky” to have parents who were so understanding of the choices they make.

“My mom was always happy if I was happy,” Zellner said. “Whatever I wanted to do in life, my mom would be happy with that decision that I made.”

Several other people asked what the panelists expected when it came to birthdays in regards to gifts and paying for the celebration.

The panelists all agreed that at certain important birthdays, like someone’s twenty-first birthday, friends pretty much take care of the bill, but the host usually pays for other celebrations.

Also, gifts are more necessary when the birthday person is young, but as people grow older, just the presence of friends suffices as a gift, the panelists said.

“As you get older, gifts are no longer expected. Just your company alone is enough,” Zellner said.

A student from Egypt suggested that too many people go to college and that craft-workers and laborers are in short supply.

Wortham said that even though some people don’t graduate from high school in the U.S., they could make a better life for themselves.

“They can start at the lower-tier job level and work; they work their way up,” Wortham said. “They can be managers and CEOs.”

Senior Reporter Johnny Hart can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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