In the swiss company I work for, we have people from 34 nations working side by side, desk to desk, day by day. That is both – a potential trouble spot and a bubbling well for innovation. Fact is (and figures prove) it makes us strong innovation-wise.
Each culture has their different point of view, their background, their specific mentality – and together, if you manage to channel the knowledge and wisdom and experience, it gives you a wide horizon. It helps you see things you wouldn’t with just your own “national” eyes and experience.
But of course, there’s a huge potential for misunderstanding each other as well – and that is not only the language. Everyone is caught a bit in their own cultural tunnel, we see the world with our specific culture glasses, we want to do things in the way we’ve learned it and it always needs a bit of thinking outside the box and stretching beyond our comfort zone if we deal with other cultures.
And I’m not only talking about other nations – think of sub-cultures, youth culture, company culture, a certain society level culture, a culture in a specific profession area.
Here in the pub we have a variety of nationalities, ages and backgrounds as well – I haven’t counted nationalities yet – but would be fun to do this. And I love the international flair of the place and the different people that walk through the door.
Taking all the different cultures and background into account – we want to establish/to grow a dVerse pub culture as well – in one sentence I would sum it up as a culture of inclusion no matter status, age or race, of open-mindedness and connecting with each other/of commenting and visiting/ a culture of healthy curiosity that makes you set out on the trail and embrace whatever awaits you on the other end of a link, a culture of yes and open communication — ha – that was a long sentence…smiles
What about you?
Do other cultures make you feel insecure or even scare you a bit?
What do you find difficult when you deal with people from other backgrounds or foreign areas?
What do you love about meeting people from other cultures and places?
Have you ever felt unwelcome in another culture?
Wanna share a story about a cross-cultural encounter and how it felt/how it influenced you?
Do you find it difficult to visit /comment on others because of cultural “anxiety”?
Pub doors are open– smiles
smiles… good evening… and talking about culture…. happy st. patrick’s day to our irish friends…
Abhra Pal said:
Good evening Claudia – you have brought up a very interesting topic of discussion – I have faced that in different ways over the years.
I grew up in eastern part of India and went to study and it became a great fusion of ideas when I met with friends from all all over. It’s an enrichment in many ways, knowing the culture, how people reach to one another.
Later when I started working and traveled in and around uk, it gave me a bigger picture – which has made me grow with time – of course, helps big time with writing.
very cool… i too think it’s an enrichment… when i stayed on business in sydney for a month, i lived with an indian and a japanese student.. that was way cool… i learned so much… and enjoyed some fantastic indian home-cooked food…smiles
Abhra Pal said:
He he, that’s cool – if you ever plan to visit India – I’ll cook for you myself, or if you want I can send you some recipe – few days back I made some sweets and when I offered it to my colleges here – they wanted to know how to make it 🙂
smiles… i learned to cook some indian dishes from a friend who lived there for a while… i make quite nice butter turka dhal, chicken in a cashew nut sauce, vermicelli… and it would def. be great to get some of your fav. recipes…always eager to learn something new… i LOVE indian food
Abhra Pal said:
ha ha – that’s good, dhal is one of the tricky dishes to cook and there can be so many variations…by the way have you ever tried biriyani?
no – never cooked biriyani – so if you have a good recipe, i would love to try it
i cooked korma and pulaw.. oy i’m getting hungry…smiles
I love this conversation. Food is what scares me and what I enjoy most. I’m not very deep.
I love Indian food, Abhra! Curries and biriyani are top of my list.
Briyani is the choice for Malay weddings here, and we can’t do without curry once a week!
see… i live in the wrong country.. smiles
do you miss your country much when you stay in england abhra?
Abhra Pal said:
Yes, very very much and it sort of weakens me once I have spend more than 5/6 months away – which is like now. I have been doing this for last 7 years now.
oh i can imagine…
Victoria C. Slotto said:
I’m reading Jhumpa Lahiri right now and love how she incorporates food into her short stories–how important an aspect it is of her culture among those who have emigrated to other countries. Makes me hungry!
I have always lived on an island in The Netherlands, but I saw a little bit of the world. I found really nice people in Marrakech and Leningrad, I was scared for my life in Spain and enjoyed wonderful hospitality in Greece. What I like about the difrence in cultures and languages is that in fact, where it all comes down to, we are not that different, we just bark in another way to the moon. Perhaps.
i always found the dutch people to be extremely open when it comes to connecting to other cultures.. never been to greece so far…but def. on my places to visit list…
Thanks Claudia 🙂 If you go to Greece: Naxos, Ios, Paros and Athens are great! 🙂
if i go to athens, i’ll take some owls with me…smiles
Your reply sounds like a poem to me.
I like the culture of inclusion in D’verse ~ its what I felt when I first shyly & hesitantly joined the OLN & prompts ~ It makes learning easy & enjoyable too ~
Been living in Canada for 9 years now so I know about living and working in a multi-cultural environment. It has opened my eyes to new cultures & different way of thinking ~ But I don’t forget my asian roots because my parents & family are still there ~ But what I do is write in a general way so anyone from any culture can understand my situation ~ And I also don’t write about “controverisal topics” because maybe it divides or offends the readers ~
Such an interesting topic Claudia ~
Happy Monday and see you guys tomorrow ~
interesting what you say about controversial topics.. it’s not easy to discuss them with people from the same background but def. even more difficult if you have the different cultural viewpoints…
and i can imagine that you miss your fam… def. not easy to live so far away from them.. what do you miss most about your home country grace..?
Sun & more sun, smiles ~ Like Imelda, I had to adjust to the 4 seasons but Canada is our home now so we make the best of it ~
Björn Rudberg (brudberg) said:
I cannot agree more.. the inclusive atmosphere in dVerse is so important for me.. I think I have touched on controversial topics a few time… at least making a stand-point..
Björn Rudberg (brudberg) said:
Just like you Claudia I work in a very international company.. many of my colleagues are from other cultures.. and English is the normal language we communicate in… there are of course many thing to consider what is “normal”.. but you have to learn that maybe it’s you who are the strange one…. on the other hand I have found that usually I get quickly accepted when out travelling… Some cultures looks very easy to start with, and the more your scratch the surface the more things you find, in other’s it’s a little bit rough to start with… but the more similarities you find.. But with a keen interest for food, I usually find my way into new cultures..
ha yes….sometimes we have to learn that we’re the strange ones… i once made a cross cultural training and the trainer took the point “punctuality” i mean switzerland is clock-work punctuality – then you have other cultures that take time just as a suggestion… his advice was to re-think and meet somewhere in the middle…
Björn Rudberg (brudberg) said:
Ah.. Swedes have a hang up on punctuality… as an example my step mother sees and invitation for dinner at 7 .. meaning that she has to be there latest at 7… and since she used to come by bus it could mean she showed up half an hour early… 🙂
haha… and found the host probably still in apron and pin curler…smiles
Ha, Björn. Punctuality is one thing I learned when we first started visiting with the school.
Björn Rudberg (brudberg) said:
I can understand that.. 🙂
Björn Rudberg (brudberg) said:
And I also remember I was 5 minutes late when we met in Stockholm … very unswedish…
🙂 I had forgotten!
hey… you two met…?? how cool is that!!!!
We did! Very cool indeed.
Victoria C. Slotto said:
My German grandfather drummed punctuality into us. You could set your clock by him.
haha… the germans… smiles
oh and food is a wonderful bridge into other cultures…. hmmmm
Hi Claudia. 🙂
I am by blood and culture, a Filipino. However, for ten years now, I have been living in the US and acquired a citizenship, too. I am married to an American. Ah, living in a household of mixed culture can be quite challenging. For one, I came from a more boisterous and politically incorrect setting. What is ‘normal’ behavior from when I came from is sometimes not acceptable here. There are many disagreements at home that came from our different backgrounds. When I was new, I turned off some people by the way I talked. I guess they found it too familiar, and flirtatious, even, when I was just trying to be friendly.
oh i can imagine that cross-cultural marriage is an additional challenge – but what an enrichment as well… and in cross-cultural environments i think we def. have to re-define and re-adjust of what is “normal” again and again… that will broaden our horizon immensely
The Course of Our Seasons said:
Not a world traveler – I think I’m not alone in this – most Americans have never set foot out of the country- and that is one of the reasons I am drawn to dVerse – getting to know people from all over the world – it has been a wonderful experience to read and ‘hear’ their accents thru poetry. I have found here in the US, living in the South or now the Ozarks, is culturally different from when I lived back east or out west. And I always try to play up my southern accent as much as possible 🙂 K
haha… would love to hear your southern accent… and i can imagine that in such a big land as the US are cultural differences… we even have them in small germany…people form bavaria have a different mentality like someone who lives up in the north
… and i too love all the different accents i hear through poetry… and many poems also offer glimpses into another culture.. i appreciate that so much
I find that culture is navigatible but sometimes gender is beyond my comprehension 🙂
haha… good point…sometimes they seem to speak another language even if they speak the same… smiles
I’m only an IT guy …
i always found IT guys masterful with solving problems… they think in solutions…which is great…smiles
Jan ( my wife ) and I will be in Basel then near Dijon for a few weeks in summer. Can you recommend one or two small things to experience that are quintessentially European ?
things that share the flavor of daily life there ?
when will you be in basel? if i’m around i would love to show you around the city a bit… if it’s summer, take a swim in the rhine, visit some of the museums – boat trip on the rhine – hike one of the mountains… ha..lots of things to do…smiles
we are setting up the dates now, late june/early july and then returning middle/late july.
at the least it would be fun to meet for tea, or a glass of wine.
that would be awesome… if you figured things out, just drop me an email..
will do, I may have to drop it in a comment as I don’t know your email, but I will let you know.
Ah, Claudia, a topic very dear to my heart! I grew up in several different countries and have worked and lived in several more since. In our family we currently speak 4 languages. So perhaps not surprising that I’ve made this my profession: I’m an anthropologist and one of my main topics for talks/training is cross-cultural communication and understanding. Geneva – where I live now – is a great place for finding people from all over the world, as is dVerse! I hope that our common love for poetry unites us and makes all differences seem not like huge barriers, but surmountable little hedges with added interest and fascinating forms (like in formal French gardens).
oh i love the french garden hedges image… yes…that would be cool… and common interests def. have the power to unite people… and what an interesting job as well… my youngest daughter is still not sure what she wants to do once she’s back from costa rica – maybe i have to suggest that to her to consider…
I love the cultural diversity here at dVerse. I never know for sure where folks are from, but it sure is cool to learn more. Myself, I’m in the middle of the U.S.; always have been. Rather than travel – which I’d much prefer – my exploration of other people, places, and cultures has been limited to art, cuisine and the study of languages.
Thanks for this, Claudia!
oh linda – i think art is an excellent way to get to know a different culture as well… it’s time and world travel.. and i’ve learned so much about other cultures by reading the biography of painters or just of anyone actually…
Victoria C. Slotto said:
I’m married to a Midwesterner, Linda, and when I get back from a visit, I speak North Dakotan! You betcha!
As a Canadian, I am fortunate to live in a very multicultural country. When I began working for a native reserve, I was initially intimidated by a culture I really knew nothing about. It did not take long before I embraced it. There are so many lessons within a culture that you may otherwise never learn, unless you submerge yourself a little bit. Words of wisdom, respect for elders, sense of community, native traditions and beliefs are only some of the things they have shared with me. There were stepping stones to establish trust and to form wonderful friendships.
Keeping an open mind is the bottom line. I find it so interesting to imagine someone on the other side of the world reading my poetry. The love and joy of writing is universal and it’s great to have a place like dVerse to share and be enriched by each others’ cultures.
very interesting… i can relate to that initial intimidation.. being confronted with a new culture just questions everything what we’ve learned so far… love that you embraced it… and i agree on keeping an open mind being the bottom line…
Which communities did you work in? I’ve worked with a few on the prairies and up north – it is a different culture. And having a Cree husband makes for learning things like time in a new way.
I grew up in a small town in Mississippi, during the time of violent racial unrest. I was a teenager when James Meredith entered the University of Mississippi, just a few miles from home, sparking deadly violence. My generation was the first in the South to see and experience the end of legal segregation of the races. The following years gave me my first experience with the blending of cultures. Given the history, it was a rocky road for some, but we managed to get down it.
I left Mississippi after college, starting a career that always has involved travel. I handled the International business for my employer in one of my jobs. The work involved rural development, giving me the opportunity to travel to several different countries on business, generally out-of-the -way places. I had to communicate with people of many different races, educational backgrounds, and CULTURES! I value every one of the experiences, even those that were uncomfortable… I had to leave one country in a rush, before the letter I had written reached the individual to whom it was addressed, who was prone to have people imprisoned if things didn’t go his way… I have had some incredible experiences, and wouldn’t trade them for any humdrum career. : )
I wouldn’t try to rate countries based on my experiences, because we all perceive things from different perspectives. My perception is that it is the culture of the ordinary people, not what kind of government rules the country, that determines their nature. There are good people with good intentions everywhere in the world, regardless of the stance of their political leaders.
I hope to travel more, but for myself, and to destinations that are of my choosing. : )
wow – that sounds like you made some really interesting (and some scary) experiences – i too think we can learn a lot even from the uncomfortable events and i agree as well that there are loads of good people with good intentions in spite of what their political leaders dictate
Kathryn Dyche Dechairo said:
Interesting questions this raises. I previously worked in scientific companies which seemed to attract people from many different countries and have always been intrigued by the differences in cultures.
I’ve also been fortunate to travel to many different places too (Seychelles, Maldives, Dubai, Greece, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Canada and many different states in the US).
As a Brit now living as a citizen in the US I find it funny that for two countries that supposedly speak the same language there are times when we use different words . . . ‘fanny’ being a scary example (which means bum in the US and a vagina in the UK)! I imagine that could get quite confusing!
The cultures I seem to have the hardest time with are those where the women are submissive or ‘less-than’ in some way or where people are being harmed. I felt uncomfortable in Dubai even though its very cosmopolitan and modern and had a hard time at the airport when I saw all the women and children sitting on the floor in one corner while the men typically sat together in the chairs. I also worked with a couple of women who were supposed to have arranged marriages but didn’t want to. It was hard for them, the struggle between love and family, history and culture.
I love the diversity here at the pub and find the different viewpoints and experiences really interesting. You have all done an amazing job at making it feel inclusive.
respect for others is a big point for me as well… and i wonder if we lost it in our western world as well a bit… i mean, you don’t have women literally sitting on the floor here but some are treated worse than that even in our modern and “equal” society..
Kathryn Dyche Dechairo said:
That’s very true . . . .
I didn’t know that about fanny…how funny!
Mark Kerstetter said:
The United States, where I live, has been called a melting pot for good reason. I’ve encountered people from many other countries and I think most misunderstandings arise from miscommunication due to a language barrier. A lot of native Americans, myself included, are not fluent in other languages. Immigrants and visitors are forced to rely exclusively on English (unless they live in Miami). For my part, I admire the effort and courage it takes to live in a foreign country, and so I am careful to listen carefully and enunciate well when I talk. I value learning about people from other countries; after all, it makes my country what it is. It’s a huge challenge though, because one must be careful not to attribute subjective things — of personality, for example — to cultural differences. Everybody’s different, yet everybody’s the same.
P. S. Claudia: I have always been a huge admirer of your inclusive spirit and your fluency in English.
woot! mark is in the house…. so good to see you… and thanks..
i too admire the courage that it takes to leave everything and move to another country.. and it’s a big difference if you just travel or if you really move abroad… i got a bit of a taste of that melting pot when i went to california… enjoyed it a lot..
Kathryn’s point about repressive cultures is a valid one, and only by example can we overcome/change problem areas.
Contact with other nationalities and cultures is totally enriching. I have lived in three different countries, used to have student lodgers from Sierra Leone, China and India, did my degree online as an expat student, with many different nationalities and learned as much, if not more from fellow students as from the courses!
The stumbling block can be communication, hence my abiding interest in language.
This pub is a shining example of the value of mixed groups.
oh wow… so interesting to get to know a bit more about you viv.. and i can imagine that you learned more from the fellow students than from the courses…. real life is always a good teacher..
Victoria C. Slotto said:
I had the joy and challenge of living with as many as 32 cultures at once when I was in the convent, in France. It is an opportunity to expand our point of view, to realize that ours is a small piece of the pie, and, as you say to learn new ways of seeing and doing things
And, of course, here in the United States, we are made up of many cultures. This year at the Westminster Dog Show, they had agility competition prior to the main event. For the first time, in that particular event, they featured mutts/mixed breeds under the title “All American Breed.” And that is what we are: mutts. :o>
I enjoy the blend of cultures here at the pub…the different approaches to life and to issues. I think it helps me to grow as a person in all regards: mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Being a part of a world community has been so enriching. Thank you fellow pubsters.
… and thanks for being a part of that community victoria… and wow on living with 32 cultures in that convent.. awesome… and smiles on the mutts…haha…we are in so many ways… but hey… the mixed breeds are the most robust…so… smiles
This is fascinating, Victoria! Were you in a big city? I cannot imagine a small place in France where there would be 32 different cultures.
alrighty… time to get some beauty sleep over here… will check back in in the morning… good night everyone
Hi Claudia, as an Australian we today have a very multi-cultural society. In fact our country is made up of migrants and we have only been in existence for a little over 200 years. My best mate was of Polish descent and when his dad died a Polish funeral was held in their language and after a wake was held to which i was invited. It was very much about entering a new world but a world in which I have never felt so welcomed. I don’t think it matters where you are from if your attitude is one of inclusiveness all is good. I love being in the WP community as I have met so many people from all round the world and I get to read their wonderful writings.
an attitude of inclusiveness…yeah… makes all the difference… i can imagine that the wake was an awesome glimpse into his culture – and a very intense one as well
It was Claudia thanks for your response.
We all come from our own cultural perspective and that makes d’verse interesting! I’m an American of Dutch ancestry, born in Minnesota, raised in Colorado and now living in rural Iowa. I’ve travelled to many states, Canada, Mexico, Nicaragua, and also enjoy learning about other cultures, especially their art and cuisine! I can appreciate how hard learning a new language can be as I’m currently tutoring a woman from Mexico in English (it’s a learning experience for me as well).
very cool… maybe she can teach you a bit of spanish in exchange… my daughters speak spanish fluently – it’s such a beautiful language – i would love to learn it
The Transcanada Poet said:
interesting subject especially for me as I am currently(and hopefully always will be) in a relationship with a lady from the Asian culture… although it presents a challenge or two when cultures clash (mostly through misinterpretation) ….it is also a learning experience for us both.. it opens up worlds that may have never been explored…
oh i can imagine… i have a columbian colleague who is married to a swiss guy…imagine… then a swedish colleague who is married to a lady from argentina…then a dutch guy who is married to a woman from brazil …looks like they’re doing well though…smiles
Listening Daisy said:
Hi Claudia! At my (American) school we have many different cultures from all over the world, so I try to learn all I can about my friends cultures. A year ago my close friend (from Shanghai) convinced me to start learning how to speak Mandarin! The other Chinese students at my school get excited when I they hear I am trying to learn their language and let me practice with them. It’s different when I visit my family in Switzerland, most of them are polyglots and I feel very intimidated. I am only fully fluent in one language (I am learning two, but I am not that great in either), so sometimes when I spend time with them I feel less than. I know I am not a frequent visitor of dVerse, but when I do I really enjoy reading the poems from all different perspectives.
wow… learning to speak mandarin…that is very cool..and very difficult as well i guess…love that they let you practice with them…. in switzerland most people speak at least 3 languages – comes from their history – in small switzerland 4 languages are spoken actively in the different regions… so it’s natural for them…
Read your poem, Paint Me With Words – a lovely piece. That describes it well…isn’t love always “two cultures” blending?!
i was responding to Robert, the Transcanada Poet (excuse me 🙂
Caroline Kellogg said:
As an anthropologist, studying other cultures makes me painfully aware that I am a white cis woman. I feel insecure about my love of other cultures, I don’t want to appear paternalizing, but they’re beautiful and I want to explore them. It’s hard to balance cultural curiosity with sensitivity to cultural appropriation.
brian miller said:
true on that balance…as i can get rather excited when immersed in a new place and come off kinda weird in the awe of it all…smiles….hiya caroline…
I grew up in Orlando, FL, USA…home to Disney World and Mickey Mouse! (I now live about 90 miles away on the east coast of Florida). Orlando has become an international hub these days. If you go to the popular shopping malls that abound there, you will hear many different languages spoken. I have been out of the U.S. only once for a visit to Montreal, Canada where my sister-in-law and her family lived. I’ve worked with people from different countries and basically it seems we all want the same things out of life. I love the diversity of our pub. I’ve found more similarities between the cultures than differences and am amazed at how many people in other countries have such a good command of English! I don’t remember ever being frightened to share with any other person because of where they’re from. Sometimes I have had no idea that who I’ve been communicating with was from outside the U.S. Have made one particular close Indian friend. She and I have found much in common…and I love Indian food too…one of my favorites! Thanks for a great dialog here, Claudia…
brian miller said:
when i was in florida it was amazing…much more culturally diverse that where i am not…used to love going down to the cuban areas…i will be going to africa for the first time in the fall…i am so excited about it…
How exciting for you Brian ~ You must tell us about it, smiles ~
Brian, I forgot to say that I had lived in Miami for several years down there rubbing elbows with many Cubans…enjoyed their food…Little Havana…truly like another country to me. That is exciting news…a trip to Africa. I’m sure you will return with much to share.
brian miller said:
yep…in tampa we had ybor city….and i have spent quite a bit of time in miami and ft lauderdale…..
Then you know of what I speak…smiles.
oh very cool bri… africa is such a beautiful country… multicultural in itself in many ways… which part are you going to..?
brian miller said:
sorry i am so late…been an interesting day….ice storms and school out and grad school starting today…taking grad school online is so interesting as well because in my class that i was working in tonight i have people from kenya…and from all over…its interesting to see education through their eyes….
its cool too in that as we read other poets we get to taste a bit of their culture…and it can even inspire us to seek out other experiences in their culture as well…any time i go somewhere i love learning about the place through the food and the stories…usually those go together…ha…when we eat together it gives us excuse to stop and talk and share….
great topic C…smiles..
I find that talking about food and sharing food bridges cultural differences ~ We actually have a day in the office where we bring food like potluck representing our culture ~ And the array of food or dishes are just yummy from indian dishes to mexican tortillas ~
cool on that multi-cultural online class… can you actually talk to them online then..? that is way cool… and cool on the potluck food day in the office grace… we should try this in my company as well.. that would be so interesting
brian miller said:
we have discussion boards…we each have to post on topics and discuss it back and forth…its really cool to see how education works around the world…..
we do the potlucks as well grace…its a cool thing…there is a group of 10 of us teachers that eat together each day….
Studying online is a fabulous experience – 1st degree and loads of other courses have made me a much more tolerant person. I started a new course yesterday about reading the mind, cognitive poetics. It may go over my head, but I shall learn as much as possible from course and multinational students. Good luck with your studies.
brian miller said:
had two courses that started yesterday…gonna be quite a bit of work…i have 3 papers due by tomorrow already…oy….thanks viv
Growing up in a small town, I always have had interest in other places, people, ideas, culture; it’s a mainstay to my way of thinking, influences my views and is the lens through which I learned to see the world. Even though I am a Washingtonian and have been to only a handful of foreign countries, I love everything about the conversation today, and I appreciate all the different stories and experiences. Working in Seattle all my adult life, I was introduced to multi-cultural life -now I see it everywhere as an ever expanding force around the world, whether it’s through the Olympics, work, travel for pleasure or career, as a student, artist, through so many different avenues. To me the globe as an international country of one; diverse and distinct in it’s many cultures and subcultures, in all corners of it, but in an altruistic manner as well. As the world grows smaller through technology, it’s happening at an exponential rate; I am thrilled there are fewer boundaries or borders, that lines are being redrawn, crossed or eliminated as we get to know and understand one another and immerse ourselves each others’ cultures, educate ourselves keeping open minds and hearts. Each part of the world has a different way of comprehending math and of course family life – I suppose we will never quite totally understand or know what it is like to be a member of a family of another culture, no matter how we much want to and try. Communication and language are key to overcoming the many hurdles, so many of which we have already surmounted. It boggles the mind to imagine what else is still to be discovered, dealt with and addressed, lived through. Perhaps I am overgeneralizing, but I love the theme you chose to talk about today, Claudia. One of my favorite movies is “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” with Sidney Poitier, how it explored basic human relations in a changing world in the 60’s…of course there are thousands of other examples of books and movies that tell stories that bring us closer together in understanding as well. Even though I’m not a worldly person through travel, I have felt attuned to it all my life and understand how important education is and appreciate where you are coming from today. Thanks for articulating this in such a thoughtful way and thus bringing us closer as a community..poetry being an common denominator in the world…in the universe.
cool…need to check out that movie… there are some cross-cultural movies that i like… always opens up the horizon a bit more as well…
I am a Canadian, but some of my relatives have only been in Canada, or North America, for a generation or two. While others have been here since the early days of settlement in the American south. The hybrid that I am finds comfort in the cultural blend of Scots/Irish/Ukrainian/Russian/German with a smattering of Creole, Mongol and Native. There is much to learn, to celebrate and pass on.
My husband is Ukrainian and Cree – so along with our English we speak some Ukrainian, some Cree and a smattering of Blackfoot from where I grew up.
There are SO many cultures living in Canada, and even Canadians speaking ‘English’ in the Maritimes won’t be clear to those Ontario or Quebec, or up North. The cultural blend is less a melting pot than a stew, with many chunks living together.
I LOVE dVerse because we have so many people from around the world – we can share the things that are common, those that are unique and we grow as poets and people from the sharing. And the learned respect that starts with poetry and ends up as us people to people.
There are so many challenges to different cultures – language, dress, customs, religion, rules, jokes, time (Indian Time is the man on the horizon…). And there are those who keep their traditions and create new ones as they break out of old habits and beliefs. THAT is something to see!
oh wow…what a blend indeed… there’s def. so much to learn from each other..
Truly! And as long as we never stop learning we’ll always find something new, something interesting.
Hi Claudia, I live I. An extremely multi cultural country, being Australia. My mother is English, my father is Czech and I was raised, though born here, typically knowing a European existence. I have travelled to Europe twice and parts of Asia. The only place I didn’t feel as if I was accepted was France, if you didn’t speak the language..they didn’t want to know us. Given that was in 2001, I am sure that has changed now however. I enjoyed meeting those from different parts of the world on WP and I want to tag along with Brian to Africa, as that is one place I would love to visit. Thanks for the interesting topic. 🙂
cool on your bi-cultural background… australia is indeed such a multi cultural country… just about every second person that i met in sydney told me they have different cultural roots… i live close to the french border and many french people still don’t speak english very well – i think for some there is quite a serious language barrier and that may be the reason for not being able to really connect if you don’t speak french
yes I think so, all I could muster were a few words from the dictionary – luckily though sign language breaks down many barriers and possibly the look of sheer bewilderment on my face 🙂
hooray to sign language… that saved me many a times…smiles
🙂 yep nods fiercly! smiles
I think most Australians are a mixed bag or licorice allsorts as my father used to say. Our ancestry is Greek, Danish, English, German, Scottish and religions include Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran – all of the religions were dropped but I still see them as part of the ancestral mix.
Australia has one of the fastest, if not the fastest immigration assimilation rates of all immigrant nations with inter-marriage taking place by the second generation more often than not. And interestingly, as I discovered in my research, the fastest rate of inter-marriage is between Aboriginal Australians and the rest.
When I look at my cousin mix I can see more often than not mixed cultural marriages which is fantastic. Chinese, Japanese, Lebanese – all into the pot along with the dozens of others.
You certainly have a melting pot within your family. Thank you for sharing your family and information 🙂
France is not really unwelcoming, – it is simply that language teaching is so bad here that many people feel threatened be strangers who don’t speak French, and react accordingly. I have taught many students – adult and late teens – who had been learning English for many years, yet had never opened their mouths in the language, it is all text and grammar based. I start from the beginning by speaking 99% English, find out what interests them and then giving them the vocabulary surrounding their interests. I’ve learned a lot from a diverse bunch of people – politics, avant guard art, football, pop music, and other subjects not my ‘thing’.
I hope I have not offended anyone by what I wrote, I was explaining my circumstances from 13 years ago. I do appreciate your explanation Viv thank you and again if I offended, I do apologise.
You didn’t offend in the slightest! The situation is much the same now as it was 13 years ago. We have lived in this rural area for 21 years, and are well accepted by all. Normans by adoption! But we do speaknFrench! There are long-term British incomers who refuse to learn the language, who are tolerated, but not liked. Is that surprising?
Not at all, I think those that long term stay or decide to live in another country, should try their upmost to learn the language, or enough to get by at least. I do love the french dialect and though I only stayed in Paris, I thought it a beautiful country. Thank you for understanding Viv. 🙂
i agree…if someone moves to another country they should be willing to learn the language as well… it makes such a difference
thank you Claudia, unfortunately we have many over here that don’t believe in doing so 😦
I used to host young people from different cultures for a twinning charity. I had a party in my garden one summer night when there were young people from Poland, India, Russia , Africa , uk, Spain, USA – it was such fun as they each cooked a dish and taught each other to dance to their own music. There was such joy and energy in the garden that night I will never forget it x
oh wow…that sounds wonderful… love that you danced together as well… so cool
Well the young people danced ~ I just provided thew food and drink and veniue!! I think it is a joy tpo be around young people so full of energy and so willing to share their time. My choir does that for me now. There are lots of lovely young mums in it and they make us oldies fell very welcome ~ it keeps me young!
this is a nice………. I feel happy to associate with people from other countries and know about that…….. But in India we have culture within culture and subculture( if i can call it that) it is very difficult for me to accept means……….. My mother is a very traditional women……. she believes what her book(darma sastra) say is the best…. I am a hindu born with believes on God but my inlaw…….. livied a life without anything all they do is while away time and I cant tolerate it…….. Now my hubby is cot inbetween………. worst of all now my sis-in-law married (love marrige) with differnt people and all their cultures are totally different we are cot by saying what we will do………………..but thing my hubby accepts all i feel good and what we(me and my parents ) say and i dont care about others……….
I love to know every culture in the world but will not leave what is in my blood being a Hindu with my choice no matter what…………..
Very interesting Lasha…thank you for sharing;_)
Having spent many years living in India I have some understanding of the complexity and power of the culture and the impact it has, particularly on women. But even India is changing – slowly but changing all the same.
that is very interesting lasha… and i’m amazed at the complexity of indian culture… i can imagine that it can get difficult as well when cultures and subcultures mix.. and the culture is very strongly interwoven with religious beliefs as well… would love to visit india..
This is an interesting conversation. Having lived around the world for many years and having lived in and travelled in and been exposed to many cultures, I find your questions thought-provoking. This got me thinking and I apologise upfront for being lengthy in my reply but I know people will read as much as they choose.
I enjoy different cultures but find those with a common language often the most challenging because there are so many more expectations and assumptions and ‘divided by a common language’ is very real.
It is also interesting, having lived in a number of English-speaking cultures to see how different cultures which speak the same language can be. As an Australian I have been exposed to New Zealanders, many of them live in Australia, have NZ relatives but have not been there. I have lived in the UK, Canada, South Africa, both Johannesburg and Cape Town, and spent months at a time, many times, in the United States over the past 20 years because I have family living there.
The closest English-speaking culture to Australia I have found is Scottish although we share a lot with the English and Irish, since these three made up the bulk of our first settlers and still make up a sizeable number of our immigrants. New Zealanders and South Africans come next in terms of cultural understanding and connections, then the Canadians and last the Americans which is the most ‘different’ from Australia of any of the English-speaking cultures. I also find it quite different to Canadians and the British.
Other cultures do not make me feel insecure but it is certainly challenging when you do not speak the language. I spent quite a few years in Belgium and relied on the linguistic skills of the Belgians in the main but picked up some Flemish and studied French, because I love the language.
I spent more than four years in India but English is spoken widely so beyond picking up a bit of Hindi, Gujarati and Marathi, it was pretty much English.
I spent more than four years in Angola and learned Portugese in Portugal but was never proficient. Angola was immersed in a civil war which made it challenging.
I have spent months living in Russia, no English there; Portugal; London; Switzerland and have also lived in Zambia, where they speak English and Malawi, where, for the same reason of British colonialism they speak English.
Getting around and finding your way without the language is the most difficult part for me. Wanting to communicate with someone you instinctively like when you don’t speak the language is also hard.
What I love about it all, and I have set up home 32 times in 43 years around Australia and the world, is that when you live in a different culture you are presented with stark images of yourself – India was the most challenging – and you learn things about yourself that you would not otherwise learn. It is inspiring, stimulating, frustrating, annoying, enraging, delightful, fascinating and more.
The only time I have felt unwelcome in another culture was with a religious culture where those who were ‘other’ were excluded unless they were necessary in a commercial sense. But any religion which sets itself up as being separate from the rest would be this way. I was only exposed to one and having said that, I also had friends, from various countries, from the same religious culture. Otherwise I found people welcoming everywhere.
In the Third World it is important, I believe, to remember that a Westerner will always be ‘welcome’ because they are useful – this is my experience anyway of India and Africa. It is not that people are less ‘friendly’ but that their world is different and friendships as we know them in the West are not common. Friendships in both India and Africa are about caste, community, tribe, family, commercial relationships – rarely just because they like you as we would make friends.
In terms of commenting on others, well, if you are in someone else’s country, I believe, despite a natural frankness, that one needs to be considered in comments although honest where possible. Some cultures, like Australia, are much more open to honesty and frankness and so you are unlikely to offend an Australian in the way that you could offend someone else. This is something I also learned that cultural perceptions even with a shared language, or perhaps because of a shared language, are a major factor in relationship.
In terms of sharing a story, I think I would say that what the past 35 years of living and travelling around the world have taught me, and I know this is politically incorrect, but here it is – some cultures are superior to others and Western democratic culture, for all of its faults, offers the most amount of people the most amount of freedom, justice and quality of life in the history of the world.
Like it or not, Third World cultures are where Western culture was hundreds of years ago and the modern, developed world, while far from perfect and in need of improvement, is still better than any Third World culture. Particularly if you are female, poor, black, a minority religion, mentally or physically disabled or homosexual or lesbian or transvestite or any permutation on the theme of human.
So, while there are wonderful things to experience and explore in the less developed world and while the developed world has, in its growth, lost too many things of value, I still believe that the modern, democratic, developed world is where humanity is meant to be heading.
As someone who has lived for so long in Africa and India I find the ‘politically correct’ tendency to condemn the Western world and seek to make noble the less developed world or less developed societies, to be dangerous.
The other thing one learns living in so many different cultures is that the veneer of civilization is thin. By all means condemn and criticise where needed, what is wrong in Western societies but do not make the mistake of thinking that non-Western societies are better.
Democracy remains the best political system we have ever had. Flawed yes, but until something better comes along it is the best any of us can have and using our vote – not an issue in Australia as voting is compulsory – is the greatest gift we can give to ourselves, our children, our nature and our world.
If you don’t believe me, spend some time in non-democratic countries or totally corrupt, semi-democratic countries, caste, clan and tribal ridden like most of Africa and India, or even totalitarian or tyrannical regimes and see if you change your mind.
So while this has become lengthy, I guess I am saying that decades of exposure to many different cultures has made me appreciate and honour the diversity, courage, nobility of spirit and creativity of humanity in general but it has also made me value and appreciate the advances made which the Western world now appreciates and for which the less-developed world still strives.
A qualified agreement from me on the superiority of Western democracy. I have lived in a “benevolent” dictatorship which did truly great things for the people, despite poverty of resources. While we were there, “multi-party” democracy was brought in, and trouble with it! So many parties were formed that a sensible majority was impossible, and after the election, the status quo was resumed.
The problem with alternatives to democracy Viv is that there are none. I have lived in a number of African countries and there is no doubt colonial rule worked best, but was wrong, a benevolent dictatorship was next best but was wrong, and corrupt democracy seems to be the outcome for most.
However, the simple reality is this that dictatorship is dictatorship and ultimately they all become increasingly corrupted – absolute power breeds corruption as some saying goes – so benign dictatorship can never ever be gauranteed.
And the reason why there is chaos when dictatorships end, benign or otherwise, is that dictatorships are no different to Kings or Chiefs of old, where Dad, generally it is a man, rules the ‘family’ or the country and you end up with immature members of family (saw that in India) or country and when the benevolence becomes no longer benevolent and is pure dictatorship, and the iron fist is removed, as we saw with Yugoslovakia, of course you get chaos.
The answer is not a return to dictatorship in a ‘quick fix’ can’t stand the mess kind of way but an understanding that dictatorship of any kind limits maturity for individuals and nations and just as with ‘teenagers’ there is no quick fix but doing the hard work to get through it to maturity.
And as an afterthought, in historical terms, Western democracy is very, very, very young and still evolving and improving. I mean, barely one hundred years for major things like universal suffrage, votes for women, end of child labour and less than that, less than half, for much more.
the culture of money which has no location worries me
profit which has no geographic or social concern
industry which can be destructive without care of consequence
a global economy which has no concern for local and long term sustainability is terrifying because it functions more powerfully than governments and is liability limited leaving all of the diverse cultures and ecologies as collateral damage
imho we all need a different kind of ‘developed world’
All of that is salutary but you need to bear in mind that there is more accountability for countries and corporations in this day and age than there has ever been before in human history.
I doubt Australia is an exception in the Western world but, for instance, any mining company is obliged by law to consider the ecological impact of the venture and, when mining comes to an end, return the area to greenfields and as close to what was there before mining began.
And this obligation extends anywhere in the world so any Australian mining company working anywhere in the world, no matter how corrupt the Government of the country may be, nor how much of an ecological vandal the Government of the country may be, is held accountable under Australian law in exactly the same way.
The simple reality is that for all of their faults Western nations are held accountable in ways never before seen and in ways that the Third World still is not. Although even they, if they want their Aid money, need to ‘toe the line’ to some degree.
We may well need a better developed world but at this point in human history it is far, far, far better than anything which went before and anything you can find in the undeveloped world.
All those things we take for granted in the West are yet to be achieved in most of the Third World and some are:
. the needs of the physically or mentally disabled
. Down’s kids not being hidden away as they were even in the West 50 years ago
. gender equality as a right
. end of corporal punishment in schools
. regulations against child labour
. regulations to ensure child education
. end of capital punishment (except for the US)
. universal health care (except for the US)
. universal quality education (except for the US)
. a minimum wage on which people can actually live (except for the US)
. maternal and paternal leave (except for the US)
. Holiday leave of at least 4 weeks (except for the US)
. extensive sick leave, compassionate leaver (except for the US)
. regulations to protect workers from being sacked without cause (except for the US)
. mental illness being discussed and not being seen as shameful
. regulations to ensure people are not discriminated against because of race, religion or gender
. freedom to practice one’s religion
. freedom to vote
. ecological awareness when building towns, cities, highways etc.
. world heritage areas
. the creation of the ParaOlympics
. appreciating the need for nature, reserves, parks etc.
. safe drinking water
i could go on. If you have not lived in the Third World you may not appreciate just how much the West has achieved, for all of its fault.
i was nodding all the way while reading through your list… we do take things for granted and i’ve talked to people from other cultures that envy us for what we accomplished…it was a long tough way and it will be not easy to maintain with all the changes that are going on in the world..
Therein lies our challenge – to protect and preserve the best that has been achieved for the sake of those who come after us.
geraldine snape said:
Being from N. Ireland and the city of Belfast…I found the culture secure but suffocating in the 60s…so left and got married to an English man from the N.W….the difference even in such a small island was strong…I had also lived in the south of England and there it was even more different….but over the years we have had other nations added into the family….German, Belgian etc..,.I love this…but as I grow older there is still a deep spot in my soul for my homeland even though I “escaped” all those years ago!!…great prompt!
We are formed in the mould of our childhood experiences and it is always important even when we outgrow it in other ways.
i think we will never lose that connection with our homeland…no matter where in the world we are and how much we love the new country..
i actually still live in the same town where i was born… and often have that longing to get away…. i travel much but would also love to live somewhere else for a few years…
oh wow…. just coming back in from work and ..wow…what a conversation… loving it… a bit overwhelmed as well….oy… have to run some errands and will be back in a bit to throw myself in…smiles
I am not a globe trotter but I was born in Australia, my homeland and roots is Malaysia and I studied for five years in Canada. I had a Polish babysitter when I was a baby. And my parents foster parents in Australia continued to visit us in Malaysia til I was in my 20s, until I became a mother in fact.
Malaysia is multi-racial, multi-religion, so the population and neighborhood was very mixed when I grew up, less so today.Years in Canada however, were very exciting in that we met, and lived and studied and got to be close to many students from all nations. At the Unicentre, we had the international students body , of which I was Vice President, our international days were a gamut of all from Asian countries, like Malaysia, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, China, Europe, And then students from Africa, Nigeria, Kenya….we had students from Jamaica and my best friend was from Trinidad. Though I was doing computer math, I took French and Italian courses from time to time and met even more foreign students.
Not only that, I gave briefings from time to time at CIDA when officers were leaving for Malaysia on introduction to our culture.
It was an environment of constant interaction with various cultures, a simple walk to Chinatown, or the pizza joint was a cultural exchange experience. Christmas in a barn, sharing our Eid, celebrating Chinese new yearand immersing ourselves in the different seasons….wonderful.
So much so I think today, I crave that experience, and find it here at dVerse. It is this that makes dVerse so exciting. So friendly. So comfortable.
oh wow… that sounds so colorful… what a wonderful diverse neighborhood and what a melting pot of different cultures… and yes… we have it here as well at dVerse – one of the reasons why i love the pub so much
So do I Claudia…so do I.
I however, do not believe in the concept of superiority. There are ancient cultures which were just as important as major cultures today and all have a hand in determining humanity.
The lessons learnt and the pain endured.
… and there were superior cultures as well that crashed at a certain point… just think of the ancient egypt… a high culture… what abundant knowledge in art and architecture and medicine they had… i would love to study ancient cultures more… compare them with the different modern cultures… that would be so interesting… my day should have 70 hours….oy
Grandmother (Mary) said:
Thanks for introducing this topic, Claudia. I’m an American living in Italy for five years with a husband who teaches presentation skills to companies throughout Europe (English as the common language). I travel with him and find the experience of meeting people from other cultures fascinating and fun. Also, my daughter is married to a Trinidadian and has two bi-racial, bi-cultural children so finding ways to break down barriers and building understanding cross culturally is vital to their future and our future as a species.
cool that you’re able to travel with him and meet all those different people.. and i def. agree in that we have to find ways to break down barriers.. i think cultures will mingle more and more in the years to come..
What joy to follow this conversation. Sorry to be a late responder. I want to share an experience in a college-freshman seminar I once taught on multicultural and feminist drama. A group of plays had female protagonists commit suicide as the only way of breaking through oppression, and class discussed the action as both a stage symbol and a tragic choice. A Japanese-American student spoke up to redefine the action as a positive and honorable choice that made the female character equal to men in the eyes of society. I learned a lot that day about how different traditions misunderstand each other. Much theatre explores this right out in full view of its audience. Film does too. And poetry? I think I’ll make forms of bilingualism a Midweek Motif at Poets United!
very interesting with the japanese-american student.. i had the chance to talk to different japanese people and their culture and tradition are so different .from ours – and with this their point of view of different things as well….. food for thought… and cool on the prompt..
yes, we make so many assumptions don’t we about how others might think or be. Perhaps the remarkable thing is not what is different but how much we have in common.
Hi Claudia! I wanted to add that this was such an interesting post and the conversation has been super. Your work environment, where sometimes challenging no doubt, sounds like a dream to me. The closest I ever came to such workplace diversity was when I worked for the Oregon Board of Accountancy and my job was to coordinate all the people who would be taking the CPA exam twice a year. The regulations are interesting, in that CPA candidates from other countries could, if they qualified under Oregon’s qualifications, take the exam in any other state (the exam is given nationwide on the same days/times but individual states have different qualifications). So I spoke daily with numerous international candidates, handled their paperwork (sometimes dealing with overseas embassies), and arranged for them to take the exam here in the U.S. Most took the exam in New York. But some actually came to Oregon to take the exam in Portland and I was able to meet these folks who had become friends through months of setting things up. One, a gentleman from Sri Lanka, stayed in touch and in the years since he has settled in Canada with his wife. They always call at Christmas and the feelings are very warm.
The job paid pitifully, but, as I write this, I realize that it was one of my best jobs and all because of the beautiful exposure to other cultures.