Cross Culture Interview I invited my friends and neighbors Katsumi and Daly to dinner at my apartment on Saturday April 14th, 2012. Katsumi moved to Miami in 2006 from Thailand and Daly was born in New York City from Jordanian parents. We discussed our backgrounds, family relations, women issues, religion, music, and the cultures that shaped and defined who we are. Also, we talked about how cultures affect our communication behavior and how it influences our perception of the communication we receive from others.
Well, we started to laugh at our dinner which consisted of pizza and coke; here we are a Puerto Rican, a Thai and a Jordanian eating Italian food and drinking an American beverage. I think is awesome how small our world has gotten. Katsumi told me “My first impression about people in this country is that they are so revealing and they are not afraid to express their feelings. I wasn’t ready for this at all. ” I learned from my friend Kat, that public display of affection is forbidden by Thai customs.
When I asked her about food she said that it was her biggest issue. “I’m considered an addict to really spicy food and of course I love Thai cuisine. I found the Mexican food is the closest food to suit my taste. ” she told me while she kept sprinkling chili powder on her pizza. Thai people like to eat lots of spicy food. White rice or sticky rice is always eaten with every meal on a daily basis. Typical meals consist of rice and vegetables plus perhaps some dried fish, as well as soup and sauce.
To my surprise there are similarities between Thai and Puerto Rican cultures, we both eat rice and vegetables on a regular basis with a fork and spoon; I had the perception that all Asian cultures eat with chopsticks. Kat and I found other similarities as well, how our families enjoy spending time together watching television, playing video games, going to the movies, engaging in conversation, celebrating holidays, and cookouts. She also stressed the fact that we differ in how we view time, “Americans are punctual for everything like work, dinner reservations and concerts.
When I was in Thailand I never got to work on time, even though I got so many warnings. Here I would have been fired if I did that. ” Another great difference between our cultures, she pointed out is that parents, aunts, and uncles are not sent to nursing facilities, when they get old, they live with their children. I learned that family has a great significance to Thai people as well as religion and their King, since Thailand has a monarchy.
She also said that almost everybody has a picture of their king or Buddha in their homes and businesses. When I asked Daly about her religion, she explained that Islam was believed to hold the highest value and is the pillar for all other values that they have. Although she was born and lives in America, her life is mostly influence by her religion and family; it is what defines her as a person. When Daly was twenty years old she decided to stop trying to make people accept her and started to wear her headscarf.
She said that it gave her freedom because she was able to live as the truest version of herself. We found differences and similarities between our religions, Islam and Christianity. We both worship the same God, both have primary beliefs that we try to follow in day to day life and both have a great respect for each other faiths and religious choices. However, one of the main differences is that Muslims, do not believe that Jesus, a human, is the son of God.
This, in their teachings, means that God must have, with all his infinite wisdom and power, created himself with limitations. A human being will eventually die; therefore destroying the idea of God’s infiniteness. However, they believe that Jesus was a prophet and hold him in the same level of regard as their prophet, Mohammed. At first I was reluctant to talk about religion, primarily because the way I was brought up by my parents. They taught me at an early age that religion and politics is not to be talked outside the family circle.
I was glad that Daly was very open and willing to share her cultural beliefs and values with Kat and me, she also wanted for us to erase our misconception about her culture and religion. There are several important things I learned about the Thai and Jordanian cultures. I learned that both cultures are very generous. That their upbringing emphasizes generosity, warmth, openness, and friendliness and that unity and respect for the family form the core of their society.
Throughout this project Kat, Daly and I felt very comfortable with one another, mostly because we have a great respect for each other’s beliefs. It was a wonderful learning experience for all of us as well as understanding each other cultures and where we come from. Furthermore, I have learned that in order to develop culture specific skills we need to be flexible and open to change, aware to verbal and non-verbal behavior, informed of the values, beliefs, and practices in other cultures and sensitive to differences among individuals within a culture.
In conclusion, cultural intelligence helps overcome obstacles by acquiring accurate information about the values and practices of other cultures and by developing specific skills needed to be effective across cultures. Generally speaking, patience, courtesy and a bit of curiosity go a long way. Bernard M. Baruch once said, “We didn’t all come over on the same ship, but we’re all in the same boat. “