I recently found myself in a game of pick up sticks with my husband. Interesting to think how people from different cultures, speaking different languages play the same game – even with a few slight rule differences.
However, I had an interesting thought when we were playing. My husband seldom uses stick to help to flick other sticks, instead he prefers to use his hand picking the one that on the top of other sticks. That makes me realize that we actually have different thinking style and structure to solve problems because we have different cultures and social norms.
A lot of employers, from innovative startups to decades old multinationals, should consider this point to actively hire foreign people as a way to help their company think through strategies, approaches, services, and products outside of the “American” box. Nowadays, new ideas are the money. The more dynamic employees a company has, the more they can think differently and meet different niche market needs.
If you want to be on the edge, don’t reject foreign talents… Now all we need is help from legislation reform and startup visas!
Several days ago, I saw the movie Les Miserables, wherein the major character's name is Jean Valjean. I thought I watched Les Miserables movies and cartons in mandarin version several times as a child – so why his name doesn’t ring a bell. Suddenly, I realized the character I saw in mandarin version sounds like “Rava Rean” - seems like different name.
I suddenly felt unfair for me as a foreigner. Even though I have read and watched about a lot of master pieces in mandarin, when I talk about people’s name or locations in Chinese version with my English speaking classmates and my husband or other people from other countries, they will be totally lost, not understanding what I am talking about. Besides the language boundary, there is also the cultural differences. As one time I talked about “xi qu ke ke （希区苛客，Alfred Hitchcock）”, even I said he is the master director of detective/scary movies, my husband still didn’t get it who I talked about, he asked me to name his movie names, I couldn’t either. Because the movie name translations are totally different. I went to the details about the movies, my husband got more confused. I suddenly feel I am in the “lost translation.” I have to go home and use google translation to continue the conversation.
I feel that my education in China except Mathematics are almost wasted in the US. I couldn’t use my cultural knowledge to have conversations or play any knowledge games with Americans. Plus my elementary school level of English and grammar, I often feel fooling, not cultural at all, regardless I am passionate about and spent decades of my life learning about music, opera, impressionism painting and modern art.
Why in China does everything need to be translated and learned in Chinese, especially foreign names? How come names cannot be identical to the names in the original language, so people who go abroad have some common “culture” to share and can talk. In the movie, leave the original name underneath of the Chinese translation. On the text books or novels, put the original “Real” names beside the translations. Why not teach Mandarin and English together, so when we come to the original countries, we can realize and identify what they are talking about and join the conversation with a common knowledge we learn.
Wake up people, as the world becomes more globalized, education needs to be globalized too. Otherwise, even though we’ve learned a lot in Chinese, we still look like idiots without any culture basis. For the foreign people living in the US, too often we end up hanging out only with the people who came from the same country, have common “culture” to talk about things happened before we left the countries. It is Les Miserables!!
What does “Practice” mean? I thought it means do exercise by following a model. Such as practice piano, practice acting.
For a long time, I couldn’t find a verb for Yoga. I always said “do” Yoga, because in Chinese “doing something” means an action. Though my husband said it is wrong, I said sometimes we do say, play taiji, do exercises, I obviously couldn’t put play here. But, attending some from yoga class here, now I realize Yoga can be practiced.
When I ask one of my colleague what she did before, she said, “I practiced law”. I thought it is so interesting. I thought the meaning of “practice” here may be “following a model” mean, but it doesn’t have the major exercise component. I couldn’t help thinking it is funny to treat an occupation as always “practicing” something, rather than “do” something. Do lawyers always repeatedly have an "exercise" on law. I really couldn’t figure it out. Maybe my lawyer friends can put comments underneath to explain to me.
Very interesting English, as I live in American longer, I realized that a lot of times, our education is not so effective to learning a foreign language. A lot of people got high scores in English, but they barely talk, they seldom have American friends to introduce them some American different cultures and the real language they actually speak. They pronunciation is a great example. I thought I am from Shanghai, had 12 + year English study and always speak English in the family and work regularly, my English is good. But I still get pointed out all the time from my American husband that my “r” and “l” are messed up. Only the environment and the people you communicate are the keys to understand the language better.
So Chinese, no matter you are in China or in American, go out to hang out with more American friends to learn, understand and speak better English, if you really want to improve it.