Dengting Boyanton, author of Teachers and Students as Co-Learners: Toward a Mutual Value Theory, experienced “extreme culture shock” when she left her native Chinese educational system to begin graduate study in education at the
University of Virginia in 2003. Despite the fact that she had been an enthusiastic and successful learner in her home country, Boyanton often felt perplexed and disappointed regarding the behavior expected of her in U.S. classrooms. She was inhibited about speaking up in class, afraid to ask questions of her professors or classmates, and insecure about offering her opinions and comments.
Boyanton’s international student colleagues, with whom she shared her feelings, reported experiencing the same negative emotions. When Boyanton began questioning American-born students about their classroom experiences—with the goal of helping herself and other international students adjust to American classroom culture—she discovered to her surprise that American students also felt alienated, invisible, and lonely in their classes. For example, one Caucasian male student
told her, “Like most new students here, you feel lonely, nobody knows you, nobody talks to you, and nobody seems to care about you either” (p. xvii).