Thursday, November 1, 2007

Cultural Relativism...

First of all, welcome to November! It's a beautiful day and I'm ready to welcome in this new month (and get that extra hour of sleep on the 4th for daylight savings!).

I wanted to post about a conversation I had the other day during lunch with some new friends. Since school started, I have become pretty good friends with five or six of the international students, especially the new freshman students. They're really fun! Most of them are Chinese, though there are a few from other East Asian countries. Regardless, they all have very different ways of encountering the world than I do. They're much more community oriented, self-less, relaxed, happy, stress free, and just generally very nice people.

Yesterday, I sat down with them for lunch. I like eating with them because no matter how my day's going, a chat with these guys can perk me up. They're really optimistic people. When we sat down, I started asking about their majors and why they were doing what they're doing, which led to some interesting discussion.

One of them said that she started as a psychology major and is now doing finance hoping to become a CPA. The other one said that she was also hoping to be a CPA, but she wasn't excited about it at all. My initial reaction was, "Well, if you don't like it, change it! Do what you want to do!" Truly, that is not what these people are about and it blew me away.

They started discussing their goal here, which isn't to find they're "purpose" and figure out how they can be happy when they grow up. They said they wanted to find a job where they can make money and be successful because they have a duty to be able to provide for their parents when they get out of college. What?! That idea seemed totally foreign to me. Their joy isn't going to be about what THEY are doing or what THEY want, but from being able to provide for the people who have given them life and a future.

It reminds me a lot of Confucian ethics in China. I've known about the Confucian ethic of filial piety, which revolves around the family unit and respect for your elders and superiors. Knowing about it and experiencing it first hand are two different things. It'd be very interesting to sit down and chat with these kids some more, which I'm sure I'll do. They're different from me, which is great. I'd love to figure out where their fulfillment comes from in this system and how they feel like they fit into it. Very, very cool.

The pictures, by the way, are of a dinner I attended with my international friends. Once a month we go to an international exchange called the FRIENDS dinner. Very fun!

1 comment:

Danielle said...

that is a very noble idea. i must say i'm drawn to it, as well. well, i still have a selfish side that wants to create music, and the other part of my wants a steady job to help my parents out. maybe i can have both? that is way cool that you chill with the international students. it definitely seems like they have a positive affect on you! :-)