Monday, February 1, 2010

Managing Across Cultures: A Personal Look

As I read through this chapter, I couldn't help but associate some of the content in this chapter to my personal experiences. So instead of reiterating and breaking down some of the chapter's content, I'll just go ahead and write about an experience I had.

A couple years ago, I went to go vacation and visit a small part of my family in Guangzhou, China (located about an hour away from Hong Kong). Now keep in mind, culturally, I'm pretty Chinese. I was born in China, I speak Chinese (Cantonese) and both my dad and mom are Chinese. So naturally, I thought I was going to blend into the masses when my plane arrived in Guangzhou. Except I wasn't.

Guangzhou is a pretty big place; nine million people reside there. It possesses just little enough of attractions/monuments to draw away tourists. Because of this, Guangzhou is not too exposed to diversity. The first and immediate culture shock I had was greetings. Here in the States, we greet each other with a smile or a hug, depending on time elapsed since last encounter. It seems as Chinese culture is more reserved as my relatives greeted me with joy but with distance too. Later I found out it wasn't as though they weren't glad to see me, it's just that they express emotions differently. Another big thing was vocal volume. Everywhere I went, people spoke loud. It doesn't matter where you were, restaurants, strip malls, bathroom stalls, you would hear people talking, but with the volume of yelling. It was as though everyone there was half-deaf at one point; so I decide to ask my relatives why it was like this. "There's so many people here that you have to yell to be heard. It's not like were fighting, it's just our way of talking. If you don't speak loud you won't be heard."

Perhaps the biggest disbelief I had was how Chinese people were able to tell I was American before I told them. Maybe it was the way I dressed and talked, or maybe I radiated Democracy and burgers. I still don't know. However, I do know that people treat you differently when they know you're a foreigner, regardless of the way you look. But I guess that's every country.

No comments:

Post a Comment