at home in... w| Gerald Zhang-Schmidt

Look Closer, Learn More, #GetAtHome In This World

Category: Cultural Intelligence Page 3 of 6

Couple at Chinese Uni

Be a Man… Or, What China Taught Me About Gender

They are some of those strange observations the foreigner makes in China:

Guy and girl sit next to each other in the park. They coddle each other, obviously very much in love.
Same people, same place, half an hour later: she has her back turned to him, sullenly plucks on some leaves, obviously irritated. He stands there, dumbfounded, obviously not quite knowing what to do.

Guy and girl walk down the road. She suddenly stops, pouts, “huhn”-s at him; he has to scramble for words to convince her that she’s the best and prettiest, and worth everything and anything, before she even takes another step.

Oftentimes, many such behaviors found widely among East Asian girls, along with a deep-seated fondness for everything cute and girly (not least in clothes and accessories), make their foreign observer incredulous.

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Learning China. Of Intercultural Communication Workshops, Cultural Intelligence, and Regional Expertise

Since moving back from China to Austria, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the ways (inter)cultural intelligence and area expertise are built.

After all, even as a cultural anthropologist, given how academic disciplines are organized here, I’m not quite supposed to work on the question of (Han) Chinese identity (as I am doing right now), for that’s the purview of Chinese studies.

There’s also the tension of in-country/out-of-country observation:
You can study a country all you want from afar, but it does not tell you anything much about the ways the people who actually make up that culture and society are going to react, let alone how you will interact with them. All theory is grey…

At the same time, being in-country can be too close for comfort; the very hustle and bustle that is real life on the ground does not necessarily make for a great situation in which to observe and critically interpret. Or even to study: Literature on China is so much easier to find at the university library here…

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The Intercultural Double Bind

So, you want to be able to work effectively in different cultural contexts, not just your own… Good choice.

Even living in one place, we live in a world that is diverse and (seemingly) getting ever more so. Being at home, whether here or there, does work much better with some cultural intelligence.

All the intercultural competence training, in all its desire to be practical and politically correct, tends to forget about the power plays in the background of intercultural interactions, though.

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Garden Fields on Xiangtan University's Campus, Hunan, China

Roots to Home – Gardens, Foods, Places

I’ve often heard it said that people who migrated to other lands brought with them their seeds and their songs. Even in these times of globalization, food continues to play a major role in making identities. It is particularly in the straight line from garden to kitchen, and particularly with vegetables, that connections both to a home and between places are created. No, not just created: grown.

Garden Fields on Xiangtan University's Campus, Hunan, China

Garden Fields on Xiangtan University’s Campus, Hunan, China

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Intercultural Training: It’s Not The Bow…

If you’ve ever been abroad, even just for a vacation, you probably know that feeling.

You are somewhere else, and it’s all quite fascinating: new sights and sounds, people who are different – and yet it’s all the same, too. The sun still rises in the East, everybody still seeks to make a living, find some happiness… but something is bothering you, anyways.

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