Community Building in the Digital Age

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With the advent of the 21st century, studying abroad has become a common practice. The increase in the number of study abroad opportunities has resulted in a growing number of Chinese students studying in American colleges and universities. Although some students encounter language and cultural barriers when they first move to the United States, the use of new technologies such as the Chinese social media application, “WeChat”, allows Chinese students to become more united and comfortable in an alien environment. My project explores how Chinese international undergraduates use WeChat to build communities and aid in their problem solving. For this reason, examining the significance of Chinese international students’ barriers, community building, and the WeChat technology are crucial for the purpose of this project. The research methods consist of three stages: interviewing Chinese international students and educators; conducting a thematic and narrative analysis of the interview data; and using sources from literature review to explain the findings. My research results show that WeChat functions such as “Meeting people nearby” and “Group chat” can enhance the community building experience. This allows Chinese international students to eliminate various barriers, including the ability to find the sources they need to solve their problems and answer their questions. On the other side, WeChat can be a distraction or lead to ethical issues such as cheating, pornography and Internet scams. The final product consists of a report and a list of recommendations for WeChat uses amongst Chinese international undergraduates, which may maximize the benefits of WeChat for them.