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Short Term Enrichment Program Bridges Cultural Gaps

CHI’s Short Term Enrichment Program (STEP) has always been popular among Chinese students hoping to expand their horizons and get a taste of a different culture.  One such student is Shang Chen, who came to America for the first time via CHI, and currently interns at the Francis Cabot Lowell Mill Senior Apartments in Waltham, MA while living with a local host family.

Shang has greatly enjoyed his time on the program, and through it has learned a number of things about American culture that he didn’t know before.  For example, at home in China, and when he first came to the United States, he was more reserved.  But he soon realized that people are more outgoing here.  He would be offered help, for example, when he needed appliances such as an air conditioner, or when he needed directions to use public transportation, but he would turn down these offers with a ‘no, thanks’ simply because he wasn’t comfortable expressing himself.  He’s learned, however, not to be so wary of asking for help, and now enjoys interacting more with people he meets.

Another difference he has had to get used to was the fact that older people in America live with their children less frequently.  In China, it is very common for grandparents to share a home with their children and grandchildren.  Shang has seen through his work how more seniors tend to live on their own, and are more independent here.

Shang still has more time on his program, and hopes to continue to grow and learn.  CHI’s Short Term Enrichment Program allows young people like Shen to do just that, and the program itself is thriving, and growing.  Each year participants like Shen and many others are able to learn about American culture by spending time at local businesses and living with host families to obtain an immersive, unmatched cultural experience.

STEP Participant
Shang on the left with friend and host family



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