I spent two weeks helping out with a Global Connections Summer Camp at my school. We hosted Chinese Students and American Students. We taught them about the cultural differences between the Chinese culture and the American culture. Here’s what I learned…
The biggest thing I learned these last two weeks is crazy to me; it makes me wonder how many things I don’t notice that are right in front of me. It fascinates me to think that no matter how similar you think cultures are, if you bring them together you realize little things that you would have never noticed before.
The biggest difference I noticed was that American children are loud! They interject and interrupt, they speak their mind, they’re energetic and talkative and want to be heard. On the other hand Chinese student are quiet, timid, shy and above all respectful. During class the American students interrupt the teachers as they speak and ask questions whenever they want but the Chinese students are quiet and when they need help they subtlety beckon over teachers and ask them for help. I also realized that Americans are very blunt about their emotions and the Chinese are the opposite. They are too prideful to admit that they don’t understand something or to say that something is wrong. Most Americans want you to know what’s wrong by complaining about things. Chinese students would never complain they would just pretend everything was alright. I find it so interesting that cultures can be so different even though we are the same species, the only difference is that we grew up 7,000 miles from each other.
Something that Madame brought up was really interesting to me; she said, “what you have seen these past two weeks is just a small snapshot of what happens all year at Allendale”. What I noticed was that Chinese people (and Americans) are very cliquey. They make friends on the first day and are inseparable for the rest of the week. The reason why I think they do this is because they speak the same language. When you’re in a foreign country you automatically gravitate towards people who speak your preferred language. I completely understand this because in Madagascar when we worked with children our own age I was always uncomfortable and wanted to be back with my friends. At Allendale the Chinese exchange students often stick together and don’t bond with American students. This is completely destroying the point of exchange students. The first week when we tried to partner up American students and Chinese students it didn’t workout so well. They Chinese refused to be separated and would only work together. Even the second week when it was majority Chinese you still didn’t see very much American-Chinese interaction. I just think that it’s so interesting that when your culturally aware that you notice so much more.
These last two weeks were an amazing opportunity that made me more culturally aware. I noticed so many things about both American culture and Chinese cultural that I would have never noticed before. Bringing together cultures that are so different really helped me understand that being culturally aware really opens you up to new experiences and ideas.