Worldly Pursuits: A Chinese Perspective

Photos by | Jason Kaplan

What is Xinpei Sun’s favorite perk about studying in Oregon?

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“There’s no sales tax!” says the 21-year-old advertising major enrolled in the journalism school. Her favorite things to buy are clothes and cosmetics.

Sun comes from Weihai, a city in northeast China. Her parents were born poor and never went to college, but they managed to build a real estate company that includes hotels and apartments. Sun is the oldest of four children, and her father pays her entire tuition out of pocket.

Still, she identifies as middle class.

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“There are really wealthy Chinese students here that will get a degree, go home and take over the family company.”

Will Sun eventually take over for her father?

“No,” she replies with a laugh. “There’s a lot of gender inequality in China. My brother will probably get it, but he’s only 5 now.”

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Although Oregon has lived up to her expectations of a safe, welcoming place, Sun reports some tension on campus.

A friend was accosted in her dorm, sworn at and told to “go back to China.” And she was routinely left out of group discussions, even though her English is impeccable.

Still Sun plans on getting a master’s or Ph.D. in education, maybe in the U.S., maybe in British Columbia.