This blog is directed toward Chinese students who plan to attend, are attending, or have attended the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.  Only you know what it is like to leave China as a student and come to the United States and the University of Arkansas.  You experience the problems students face such as isolation, language difficulties, and so on.

As you may know, I am a writer and editor.  I want to write a book that tells your story.  This book will be fiction, so when I say "your story" I am including Chinese men and women at the U of A.  I've read a few books about Chinese people that I have enjoyed and now I want to write one.

I will gladly tell you the name of my book.  But I do not want to put the name on the internet, because the book has not been written or published!  How can I write a book about Chinese students, since I am not Chinese and have not experienced the things you experience?  Let me tell you why I think I can do this and how I need your help.

A few years ago I started making friends with Chinese students in Fayetteville.  I have taught three of them how to drive my truck.  Twice we have taken a Chinese student on vacation to California.  Once I took three guys to Colorado for a week.  Once my wife and I took four students to the Great Smokey Mountain National Park.  So, I have heard some of your stories.

I told one of my Chinese friends about my plan to write your story.  He said, "You can't do that.  You don't know what it is like.  You have no idea what we experience."

I said, "Well, listen to my plan.  In my book, a fictional young man leaves China.  He has been a top student in China, a leader in his class.  He worked hard to come to America but when he arrives he finds one of his professors has a strong accent.  He has more difficulty than he expected understanding English even with the people on the plane as he comes to Fayetteville.  He has a hard time finding an apartment, but he feels very alone in most of his classes.  He has a research assistantship, but had problems communicating with other students.  After a few months, his girlfriend writes him a "Dear John" letter; that is, they had planned to get married after he finished his master's degree, but she has a new boyfriend and wants to split up.  He is heartbroken."

My friend from China, who had been listening was silent.  Finally, he spoke up, "How did you know?  You have told my story exactly!!!" 

I said, "We are all people.  You may be Chinese, but everyone has the same types of problems." 

When Wang Hua told his story at the 2014 CSSA, he reminded me of my story.  He said, "We [the CSSA] will continue our commitment of spreading Chinese culture, developing diversity on the UofA campus, and most importantly, making a "Home" for our students. Without your support, our commitment is meaningless, so we need your participation."  It totally agree.  Soon after making a few friends from China, I realized how important our friendship (me and my wife, Sheila) can be to Chinese students. 

At the same time, I experienced a little of your experience.  When I went to the U of A in 1970, three weeks later my parents moved to North Carolina, never to return to live in Arkansas.  I felt very isolated and alone on that first Thanksgiving Day holiday I spent alone because I could not afford to travel to my parent's new home. 

So, how can you help me?  I need your stories.  If you have had an experience or problem that might make a good fictionalized story in my book, please send it to me.  Roommates move out, professors take other jobs leaving students stranded (as mine did) or even die sometimes (as one Chinese's friend's professor did).  People have problems.  Tell my your stories so I can make my book more real. 

It may take me a few years to write my book, but that's normal.  I eagerly await any ideas or stories and experiences you might have.

You can read more about me and my wife at: http://www.sedgehead.com/index.php/miscellaneous-articles/86-welcome-cssa