“I will change things in my own small way”: Chinese Overseas Students, “Western” Values, and Institutional Reform

Stig Thøgersen


The article is based on a longitudinal study of Chinese college students who studied abroad as part of their BA programme in Preschool Education. It first examines the Chinese discourse on preschool education in order to understand the current situation in the students’ professional field. The main section then discusses students’ attitudes to what they perceived to be key values and principles in early childhood education in the West: freedom, individual rights, equality, and creativity. Students generally expressed strong support for these values and wanted to reform Chinese institutions accordingly. The article argues, based on this case, that while Chinese students abroad may not see themselves as the vanguard of macro-level political reforms, some of them certainly want to play a role in the gradual transformation of Chinese institutions in their respective professional fields.

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