October 07, 2008

China, India, Turkey, Greece, Venezuela, Taiwan, Honk–Kong, Brazil – Diversity and Brazilian stories

We are all different and there`s nothing clever about saying that. However in a day by day basis that is not a problem since we most of the time don`t have any specific serious urgent thing to work out together. However when you are working together, differences can be very hard to work out. That`s true in any situation, but imagine in our situation. We all came from different countries, meaning different cultural backgrounds, different ages, experiences, social and intellectual backgrounds, etc etc. We all meet here in a place that`s also different for all of us (and since I came from a so called "western" with all it`s latin-greek-anglo-saxon common origin and philosophy country, I can only imagine that for our colleagues from the east is even more complicated since they have a background that is so different from the western one) to study for one year something that is fairly complex and have to work together, have to understand, cooperate, test our leadership skills. That`s quite a chalenge (and Paul talked about that today after the end of the discussion. He is right!).

But there`s something else that make things even more complex. The language. We all speak English fairly well. Some of us (Lila for example) find it a bit easier (I am not going to talk about Luis because being a Kiwi/New Zealander his speaks perfectly) but I`m pretty sure they also have they`re challenges with understanding the English accent, culture, understanding us speaking English.....So we are going through a great challenge and my feeling is that we are doing pretty well. Is going to get easier and easier to work together and understand, and communicate. Again I`d like to say that I have an special admiration for my friends from the East (Chinese, Taiwanese, Indian, etc) because once again the culture makes it even harder. The connection between language and culture is very strong so when you came from a different culture it makes much harder to understand and communicate in a particular language and I think you are doing very very well.

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Now some curiosities. Last week I was having lunch with some friends and a subject arose. I started to think about sayings that we have in Brazil and that somehow included they`re countries. For example, when you want to say that you are not understanding anything you say "that`s Greek to me!" (I think they have something quite similar in English). Another one for the Greek. When you say "that`s a Greek present!" it means that`s an awful present, one that`s going to give you a lot of work (probably it comes from the whole Trojan Horse thing...).

When you say someone is Turkish in Brazil it means that they are very tight fisted, they don`t like spending money at all. Another possible interpretation is that that person has talent for commerce, for selling things.

Two sayings with Chinese (but the second one is not very nice, please don`t get upset with me, is just a Brazilian saying I did not create it!) . When you say that you made a Chinese Business, or a Business out of Chine means that you made a fantastic, a very good deal, that was really worth it. The second one (remember, don`t get upset!) goes that when you can`t make any difference among people , when you think everyone is similar, or dresses similarly you say " they are all Chinese to me" .

When you say that something or someone is very ponctual you talk about British ponctuality. On the other hand when you say that a football game is horrible, hard to see, poor technically you say that`s English Football!

There`s a great deal of information about how we all see each other on those sayings (even though the are mostly simplistic and are filled with prejudice since they tend to classify all the population of a country in just one way (even if it is a quality, not all of the population of one country have that quality).

Anyway, do you have any sayings about other countries in your place? Anyone about Brazil (very unprobable....).


- 4 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Learn quite a lot from this blogthx
    knowledge maybe the easiest thing during this year~ some culture and history are much harderbut once we take these culture as part of our lives, we become more smart

    07 Oct 2008, 21:07

  2. I had the same feeling while I was making dinner with my new German friend and his Kenya friend last week. We sit in one table discussed about the special dish of our hometown and found out it’s very different. While we realised that 3 of us come from 3 differnt continents, have totally difference outlooks. All of us felt vey amazing. We will eventually learn from each other after we get used to the different accent and overcome the culture shock.

    07 Oct 2008, 23:28

  3. Wow, very interesting entry Francisco! I can tell you’ve put a lot of thought into the cultural issues. Love the bits about Brazilian “sayings” , although I never heard it like that , it certainly make sense to me and is actually quite funny!

    08 Oct 2008, 23:09

  4. I am so glad that our class is so multi-cultrual. I can tell my parents now that I have friends all over the globe now. Talking to our classmates about their countries gives us many different perspectives we had not thought off before…

    11 Oct 2008, 12:27


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