Finding the Gap
Abstract. The intention of this thesis is to examine the experiences of international master’s students from China during their time at Carnegie Mellon University. Over the course of a year I researched the different challenges this community faces and the current methods they use to solve their cultural issues. My research included silent and participant observations, literature reviews and questionnaires, but the most successful findings came after a series of in-depth interviews with Chinese students. There are several offices at Carnegie Mellon that can help international students solve specific cultural issues, but in every case, a student or professor must identify the problem before it is addressed. During my research I found that cultural problems are many times mistaken as language issues or personality differences. In order to address the problem differently, I decided to find ways to get Americans and Chinese students to interact more successfully, but in the end I redirected my solution to help ease communication during current interactions. With the aid of speech to text technology similar to applications like Dragon Dictation by Nuance, this assistant allows Chinese graduate students to keep up with fast paced group meetings by showing a live transcription of the event along with options for translation assistance, bookmarking and slang conversions.