There are a large number of Discourse communities exist in the world. Different people may stay in their different community or someone may take many communities. Discourse community is a way let different people, who have a same interests, using language, action, interaction, values, beliefs, symbols, objects, and tools together to place in such a way that other people can recognize them as member of their community (Gee 446). Which means those people may have their special things to show each other how they adapt in this community. People, no matter who you are, are already exist in some particular discourse community.
Such as football team, church group, they all can be called discourse community. In fact, they may not recognize each other until they find they have a common thing. You may find one of your friend who also wear the football T- shirt is same as you. Then, you will know you two are in the same discourse community. Chinese students union was considered as a special community within discourse community of the University of Oklahoma. As everyone knows, OU is a large community includes lots of sub-discourses in order to have a good service to their students such as housing and food, writing center and OU IT.
One of the group is the Chinese students union, which can be called OUSCSS, the university of Oklahoma society of Chinese students and scholars, is none profits organization united in the University of Oklahoma. According to the research from Confucius institute, we can find that the number of Chinese students are growing gradually, there are almost 30,000 students study at OU, and almost 2000 of them are Chinese, although it is still a small group compared to other students in OU, it is still a huge number (Confucius institute).
In case they may meet some problems that they cannot handle, some students voluntary to form this organization- OUSCSS. Based on the interview from Mr. Zheng, who is a chief of OUSCSS, he mentioned that OUSCSS have their own official website to publish the activities and events they have and the news related to them (Zheng). They also have Bulletin Board System, which is aim to help OU students especially for the Chinese students, to relax, communicate and share information.
Also, they offer a special part to help people to sale their used products (Zheng). In fact, there are some students who intend to study at OU, they want to know about some information about OU, where is the best place to let them comprehend OU. OUSCSS have their own special management (Zheng). Besides the chief, there are five sub-discourses under the OUSCSS, which are planning department, publicity department, public relations department, sports department and utility department (OUSCSS. com).
From my observation, these five department seems like interplay and they have same position in this community, not a single one can be omitted. However, if they are going to hold a big events, they have to work together. The planning department, firstly, will provide an outline, and the chief will arrange different department to do their own job, such as the utility department will buy the demands that the planning department ask for, and the publicity department will popularize the event letting all Chinese students know even let all OU students know (Zheng).
In some aspects, we can see that the planning department have more power within this community because they are the person who have to set all of requirements and rules so that other department can follow the steps. Zheng mention that “when we hold event such as the spring festival, the planning department will make an outline for how long it will take, what kind of show it will be, and the price of each ticket, then I will form a meeting let our member to discuss. ” This is why I prefer the planning department have to power within their discourse community.
All in all, OUSCSS can help Chinese students have a better life since they offer lots of tools such as BBS and office website, and different kinds of events when they have big holiday in china such as spring festival and mid-autumn festival, which will make Chinese students’ life more convenient and enjoyable. The Chinese student union has their own social identity to let their member to be recognized. According to Gee’s argument that “Social identity is a way that display and recognize who was and was not” (Gee 445).
Such as there is a group of people who wear the T-shirt with OU big logo during the football game, so there is no deny that we can say that they are in OU this discourse community. We can understand that Social identity is a way to show other people you are part of some community, sometimes the kits may are a particular behavior or traits (Gee 442). Chinese students union have their own uniform which is a white polo t-shirt as their social identity to show they are part of this community (Zheng). Whenever they holds an events, all of their members are requested to wear their uniform (Zheng).
In this case, not only their member but also all of the visitors can easily distinguish who is the member of Chinese students union, which can serve the events more convenient. In fact, it indeed will clash with other social identities that the member hold in other discourse they are. Based on my interview with Mr. Zheng, he said that “Our member may stay at other community at the same time, like some members of planning department who also who likes Korea pop star, the idea they come up with will be influenced by the singer, even the clothes they wear will affect our other members. ” (Zheng).
Under this circumstance, I do believe that their member will be potentially clash with other members when they hold in other discourse. Like the example the Zheng mentioned, some of their planning department member were also stay at Korea pop music community, so I can infer that their next event of spring festival will influence by Korea pop music, such as they may use one of the Korea song as their background music, which may never happen within their event before, but with their member were affect by Korea pop music, the event they hold will also change. So their audience will experience another kind of spring festival.
Another aspects can support that why Chinese union is important in OU discourse community is Conversation with capital C, which can help people to find the main purpose of this discourse. Gee claims that “Conversation with capital C is when we talk or write, our words can relate to someone else’s words, utilizing themes, debates or motifs that the conversation is focusing”(Gee 441). Since people who in same discourse community are already familiar with each other and they work together, so when one of their member is using a certain word talk to others, it may just very briefly, they can exactly specify the main idea.
Speaking of Chinese student union, the chief of OUSCSS states that their main goal is trying to help Chinese students preferably fit in school both study and life (Zheng). Such as different kinds of event they offer. Especially when Chinese students meet their big festival in china such as spring festival and mid-autumn festival, considering all of Chinese student will miss their home so much, the OUSCSS will provide an evening party for them which will includes lots of shows (Zheng). All of work they do is to provide a sense of belonging for all of Chinese student, they will have the regular meeting to announce the message or events (Zheng).
Chinese students union have their own way to communicate, which is using WeChat group chat (Zheng). WeChat is a software that very common use in china. When Zheng sends message said “3p. m. whole member”. Every single one of their members will know what does his means, which means that they will have a meeting at 3p. m and all member have to attend. Although he did not mention anything else such as the location and the content, their member they will know the major conversation of this brief message, where they should meet and who have to attend.
The last reason why I prefer Chinese student union is value to exist within the lager OU discourse is based on the discourse maps. Discourse maps is not a usual location map, which can the direction of ways. Gee illustrates that “discourse map gives you a way to understand what you are seeing in relationship to the full set of discourse in an institution” (449). Discourse map is a visual map that can show how different relationship interacts with each other (Gee 449). Because the OUSCSS is part of OU, so when OU are holding a big event and ask all of union or club to participate, all of discourse have to attend.
According to Chinese students union’s official website, this year OU hold a party called “Eve of Nation”, which means to let several country’s student together and every county’s student have to give a performance. The main idea of this event is to let OU students learn other country’s culture. In this case, Chinese student union will play an important role in generalize this event and notify all Chinese students who want to on behalf of all Chinese students to organize a show.
Because some Chinese students may not notify this announcement even though the OU published, so Chinese student union as a neutral position to help Chinese student have more chance to attend OU event. To sum up, OUSCSS have their own discourse map to work with other discourse community. Chinese student union play a significant role in OU discourse community in order to serve to Chinese students, by using some certain social identity to let people recognize their member, the social relationship map to interact with each other, the major conversation they are trying to achieve, and the sub-discourse coexist with each other.
In conclusion, although comparing to native students, the Chinese students are take a small part portion of whole students. However, I have to admit that the Chinese students union indeed can help Chinese students in some ways since the Chinese students are far from their hometown. It will provide a sense of home to let Chinese people feel they are not alone, they have a “home”. By using discourse, social identity, conversation and discourse map that can be the reason to explain the value of Chinese students union.