Before we start, let’s have a closer look at a student organization or society. Typically, it is created by students for students and is described as a non-profit organization that has no connections with any political party of the country or region it’s in.
There’s a quite common misconception that a student society is an association typical to the Western world only. To date, however, these associations are well-spread across the globe. Some of them have even become international, allowing students to find an organization for almost anything. More and more high school graduates start studying the list of student organizations based on their college campus even before they actually arrive: thus, they waste no time upon arrival and can apply for membership from day one.
And even though the offer is vast, most unions fall into seven basic categories:
- Educational or academic organizations
- Community service unions
- Multicultural associations
- Media societies
- Sports organizations
- Religious and spiritual formations
- Student government societies
Right before we talk about one of the most popular international unions – The Chinese Students and Scholars Association – here’s a significant point to keep in mind: In the past, a choice of a student society impacted their career after students left their college. And it remains so. Within a society established on common interests and goals, students learn to develop their skills and strengths that typically have a broad impact on the workspace and acknowledgment.
What Is the Chinese Student Association: From the Day of Foundation Until Now
The Chinese Students Association started in the late 1970s with the growth of the number of Chinese students who started their education outside China. And though Chinese students chose different geographical directions for academic growth, the United States was recognized as the top direction. For this reason, the representatives of 200+ Chinese Student Associations met at the University of Illinois in August 1989 for their first congress to discuss common goals and growth strategies.
Now, the Chinese Student Association is an official non-profit union for overseas Chinese students and scholars who are officially registered in most academic institutions residing outside the Republic of China. Associations may indeed differ across the institutions, but the name they share is always common.
An officially stated function of the formation is to help Chinese students in their study and work, life, and related challenges by bringing them together within a campus and even for them not to remain isolated, creating bridges between them and other similar communities. Spreading the word about the Chinese cultural society, hosting national events, organizing holiday celebrations, assembling academic forums, and even recruiting talents are among the main focuses as well.
All is done to promote Chinese and Chinese-American (or other) affairs within the college community the Chinese students are in. Eventually, when the goals are correctly set, the association creates a network of individuals, Chinese and local ones, who are interested in common affairs and are open to learning more about China, its history and culture, food, and news.
Not least significant elements of the entire process are events that are typically cultural show productions and even trips. We’ll speak of them a bit later.
More on the Mission of the Chinese Student and Scholar Association
The mission of the Chinese Student Union is to foster the understanding of Chinese lifestyle and culture and develop them through projects focused on education and awareness. Appreciation of Chinese culture always goes alongside awareness and understanding. However, this isn’t the limit.
CSA are fostering an important supportive cultural as well as social environment for industry unity and cohesion of a unities Chinese student body. And while many other similar societies keep their doors closed to students from other ethnic origins, CSA welcomes all students to participate and develop together.
The unity enriches the campus’ sports competition and cultural life as well. This is done through the means of organizing annual events. For example, the society in the Glasgow area is organizing special events that, on the one hand, are creating a positive image of the local Chinese community and on the other hand, are promoting academic communication between local students. For Glasgow, this is the Week of Chinese Culture, One Week CP, New Students Pick-up, Badminton Contest, Lectures on Job Hunting, and more. Glasgow is only one of the hundreds of examples. What’s peculiar, all of them are positively discussed by students, teachers, and locals.
CSA retains the right to speak on behalf of Chinese students and even represent them when communicating with the local authorities, schools, and universities. The Association is very protective when it comes to ensuring the rights and safeguarding the interests of local students and scholars. For students and scholars, Unity becomes a safe haven where they are supported and where their rights are never questioned.
To date, the mission of CSA is fulfilled through five core steps:
- Step one: Sponsorship of society gatherings, small and large. Small – for ensuring close interactions between society members, large – for bringing all society members to participate in massive national and cultural celebrations.
- Step two: Co-sponsorship for non-Chinese academic or cultural societies in order to allow the members of the society to explore interests beyond the Chinese culture and be easily assimilated into a new society.
- Step three: Sponsorship for career fairs and guiding effective student-professionals-corporations communication.
- Step four: Organizing regular forums where CSA members can be free to channel their opinions as well as demonstrate their talents.
- Step five: Provide practical services to make sure the needs of the unity members are addressed. In most cases, these can be pretty simple things like passport renewal services or airport pick-ups.
The peculiarity of the CSA’s mission is the fact it can unite the members, turning them into a family rather than a society only.
Benefits of Chinese Student Union Membership
As it was mentioned before, belonging to any college association goes alongside benefits that improve college and post-college life. Even though it differs from campus to campus, the pandemic has introduced its changes to the acceptance process allowing many students to join a society and find support in times of uncertainty. For many CSAs spread around the globe, the official membership is free of charge. In addition to a typical welcome box with a T-shirt or a backpack, the official membership allows you to enjoy:
- Exclusive discounts to select a fitness studio or gym
- Discounts for social mixers and after-events
- Internship programs
- Board positions
While newcomers have access to CSA events only, official members can enjoy all the benefits and even more.
Events as an Indispensable Part of the Chinese Cultural Society
General or annual meetings are typical for any student society, where members discuss current issues and make plans for another week. In addition, there is a list of other club meetings and events that give students a chance to interact with each other outside formal gatherings.
These bigger events are hosted throughout the year. They are for domestic and international students to discuss interests and create mentorship/family relationships.
In collaboration with diverse Asian organizations, the Chinese Cultural Society hosts the most popular events like Interview Workshops, Life in Big Four, Networking, American Living, Western Dating, etc. The most awaited event is the annual Culture Show as part of the preparation for the Lunar New Year.
Why Non-Chinese Students Join the Chinese Student Association
A clear reason why non-Chinese students tend to enter CSA is their wish to learn about authentic culture and society through direct interaction with Chinese who come from the mainland. While finding a positive opportunity for themselves, local students also tend to help the CSA immensely by creating a bridge between local communities and the Chinese.
However, in addition to this main reason, there are also equally important ones. We’d highlight five of them:
- Networking: A social one, while meeting new students, new nationalities, and new backgrounds. In this case, we’re talking about people of Chinese descent trying to assimilate into the Chinese-American or Chinese-Canadian (or any other mix) culture.
- Growth, A personal one, while balancing social life and education and, at the same time, trying to focus on personal goals through others’ personal identity.
- Friendship: A long-lasting one, according to those who left the Chinese Student Association after graduating. The friendships formed while meeting, organizing activities, and holding events always end up befriending people around.
- Management skills: Strong ones that were formed when planning unity events (social and cultural). They are typically a strong foundation for potential career plans.
- Resume: A great one that shows a CSA member as proactive, energetic, with lots of connections, and strong social and organizational skills.
To sum up
The Chinese Student Association is a forum for unity and cultural exchange. It is about integration and an open platform for Chinese and local students. But most importantly, it’s also about trying to change the perspective, learn new things, and grow as a person or future professional.