You know when there’s just that one person in your class, workplace, or family who doesn’t “get it.” Yeah. I have little tolerance for that person. Especially when they are from your generation and your home country. When it comes to ignorance of social issues and people’s rights, I can’t help but get a little heated. Is it too much to ask that the people who participate in society understand how it works and realize that all humans are in fact people? Maybe. Of course you have to account for cultural differences without adopting the “Cultural Relativism” idea. This states that no matter what a culture does, outsiders have to respect it because it is their culture. This leaves lots of wiggle room for injustices, but if countries are regulated it is possible that some will be prevented from experiencing their culture. It’s a slippery slope between upholding justice and oppressing the minority.
While travelling I sort of expected these people to “get it” because so many of them had been to places that were disadvantaged or had been exposed to different cultures. These were the Europeans. The Americans are very different. Many Americans don’t travel at all, partially because it can be very expensive to go to another country, but it is also out of our comfort zone. Because of this, many Americans end up spending most of their lives in their home country. This is completely fine, however, it is important to understand and have some exposure to other kinds of people and cultures as well as delving deep into your own culture. What I have discovered is that many of the Americans who do travel are very rich and they went with their parents on business trips, not to go backpacking with friends or alone. When travelling with wealthy parents, it is likely that you will only see a small window of the place you are visiting. You most likely don’t experience the street culture of the real people; you will probably dine at nice restaurants and avoid public transportation. These are all huge generalizations, of course. There are obviously exceptions to my theory, but from what I experienced in my first days in Shanghai with my classmates, this holds true.
What I have really discovered is who my friends are and who my friends aren’t. I won’t be tolerating childish behavior on this trip because I’m not here to play games and participate in the popularity contest. I could perhaps teach these ignorant or childish people what its like to participate in the real world, but I didn’t come to China to teach other Americans fundamental truths. I came to experience the culture on my own, eat good food, make life long friends, and explore. I want to be functioning at a higher level of learning that some of my classmates are incapable of it seems. That is unfortunate. Luckily I have found close American friends to engage in intelligent conversation, and great Chinese friends to ask about Chinese culture. I don’t want to be that person who ignores everything that isn’t what I want to hear, but I only have 4 months in China. This has been my dream for so long, I only want to be concerned with my positive impact on this place. A selfish dream, but at least
I think I have learned more about my self and the world in the last two months that I have in my whole life. I learned who I am away from other influencing factors and I feel so much more confident now than ever before.