|Perform high US It allows Chinese students easier access to local universities. Photo: File / BBC|
Yiran "Camellia" Liu, 18, was attacked and burned with cigarettes last March 30 in the town of Rowland Heights, in southern California, by a group of Chinese students, called US paratroopers. The young woman of Chinese origin Yiran "Camellia" Liu, 18, will never forget the afternoon of March 30 when, by his own account, was attacked in the town of Rowland Heights, in southern California, by a group of Students also come from the Asian nation.
The assailants, their age, took her to a park where she was allegedly stripped naked, beaten, burned with cigarettes and even cut his hair and made him eat. Three teenagers are judged by these facts, which were recorded with cell phones by other young people who witnessed what happened as if it were a street show.
All the protagonists of this terrible incident have something in common: they are considered "Young paratroopers" (parachute kids, in English), name that Asian teenagers who are sent to study in the US is known, living in families host, without the direct supervision of their parents. Despite being an isolated incident, the attack on Liu Yiran has put the focus on these young people, whose number has grown steadily in recent years, most of them coming from China. According to the Institute of International Education, in 2013 there were about 23,000 Chinese teenagers studying with an F-1 visa in US high schools, 9,000 of them in California.
MOST CHINESE STUDENTS
The first "Young paratroopers" began arriving in American schools in the 70s. They were mostly children from wealthy families in Taiwan, which were welcomed by a family member or even, despite being underage, living independently in apartments or houses paid for by their parents, even though US law requires them to be under the supervision of an adult. In the last decade, with the explosion of the middle class in China, teenagers from the Asian nation have become the largest group among foreign students of high school in the US, which in 2014 were more than 80,000.
These young people studying in US schools It gives them the opportunity to learn English and to access a higher education system of quality as is the American, avoiding having to go tough entrance exams to the university that exist in their country of origin. According to experts, sometimes the personal price they must pay for this is high and sometimes the cultural shock and the fact of being separated from their families, cause them to lose control of the situation.
With 14 or 15 years they come to an unknown country, often with a rudimentary command of English, staying with families whose primary interest is not always the welfare of children but the money they receive from the agencies that manage the travel of students. Some come from families who have invested all their savings to send them to study in US, so the pressure to get good academic results is high, while not always easy socializing, increasing their sense of isolation .
The reality is that most perfectly adapted to their new country, particularly in areas such as the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California, where there are schools where most students are of Chinese origin. Nevertheless, experts warn that the business of the management of stays of foreign students is an expanding industry in the US, which should have stricter regulation.
According Joaquin Lim, president of the American Foundation for International Education (AIEF, for its acronym in English), an organization that has over two decades managing the arrival of foreign students to US schools, the number of Chinese students " It has exploded in the last five or six years. "
Why American schools have opened their doors to so enthusiastically to the "Young paratroopers"?
"There is no doubt that there is an academic interest but there is also a financial interest. These students provide additional revenue to schools, because as foreigners have to pay higher rates," Lim explained in conversation with BBC World.
"For many schools was salvation, because after the crisis of 2008 the education budget fell and Chinese students became a new source of revenue." Lim believes that what happened in Rowland Heights is "very unfortunate" but believes that this is "an isolated incident". Nevertheless, the president of the AIEF industry believes that foreign students should be more regulated, because it believes that if businesses are made in private homes do not have well-defined rules, "things can get out of control ".
"For example, we require that each student has their own room and the door count with a lock. In addition, the host family has to commit to give young people at least some Chinese food a week. They are details that makes it easy transition to their new life in America. " Lim says that most of the problems facing these students do not have to do with academic issues but with their living conditions. "Imagine shot teenage boys with hormones, separated from their families, in a strange environment, suffering anxiety attacks and have adjustment problems."
"A majority come from middle class families who have worked all their lives to send their children here. (.) So these young people face a lot of pressure because they do not want to disappoint their parents."
Cindy Chang, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times who was recently researching the topic of "young paratroopers," Lim matches that for some of these boys and girls experience can be hard to not master the language and not have near their family.
"For them, the relationships with other young people become very important and if you happen to not get along with their classmates or reject these can have a terrible experience." Chang also believes that there should be more regulation.
"Often parents do not travel to the US to meet schools or foster families and leave it in the hands of a broker. And in the end this, like families and schools, they want to make money, making incidents like Rowland Heights may occur, "he said Chang in conversation with BBC World.
Lucy, a student of Chinese origin that was sent to Southern California by his parents in 2008 to finish high school, currently studying at an American university. As he told the BBC, although when he arrived he lived with a family, at first I felt very alone, partly because of the difficulties they had to communicate by not master English. Nevertheless, it notes that each month meetings between those responsible for the school you went and their legal guardians were held to ensure that all was well. Lucy says it's true that many Chinese students experience a strong culture shock, but if you think was positive, as it believes that the education system in China is much stricter and more freedom here and "more fun."
She studied at the same school as some of those accused of committing the attack Rowland Heights last March and says he does not understand what could lead them to do that, because in that school "do everything possible to make one feel safe and happy. "