Promoting International Humanities Education

Lin Yuhan's picture

In my previous article, I expressed my disappointment in my students’ choice of majors (I’m a student advisor for predominantly Chinese international students at an ESL school). Most of them choose either business, management, finance, or accounting because they believe those majors are less complicated for international students and the job prospects in those fields are relatively more compelling.   

I do not blame them, because I did have a difficult time seeking an employment with a degree in Political Science and Global Studies. Even though I found a job, the salary is a lot lower than that earned by my peers who entered the job market with a degree in computer science, engineering, or business. Nevertheless, I have no regret in what I studied for four years. Yes, the skills I gleaned from my degree are not as pragmatic as those in majors like computer science; I do not excel in resolving algorithms, but I have developed an inclination to learn and care about art, politics, culture, religion, and so on. I have learned to have empathy and analyze issues from a variety of views. Therefore, I am always thankful for my degree in the humanities. 

Promoting International Humanities Education

I believe it is vital to implement education in the humanities to both domestic students and international students. One of the main obstacles restricting international students from blending in on U.S campuses is the lack of communication and social collaboration. Though the language barrier can be a restricting factor for mutual understanding, based on my experience, students who are well read, curious, and does not necessarily possess the best English skills, perform better than other international students in terms of socializing with people from different walks of life. That is something that education in the humanities can foster. 

An education in the humanities helps students understand others through their story, language, religion, history, and culture. They can eventually learn to analyze issues and be empathetic. Most importantly, an education in the humanities encourages and gives students the opportunity to be curious.  Students become more eager to learn another language, observing art masterpieces, and read literature. When international students are educated in multiple dimensions of the humanities, the class atmosphere can be so much more fruitful and diverse when we integrate their perspectives. 

I have gradually learned to not get frustrated when students tell me that they want to study business because of their parents; I support them in whatever they study, and I am glad there are so many students who can master math and science after four years of college. But I always encourage them to take time to read and observe. Go visit a museum during the weekends, and read for half an hour before going to bed.  An education in the humanities comes from a wide range of resources, and before you know it, you will have the skills to think and question creatively. 


Lin Yuhan is the culture and politics editor for Wandering Educators.