Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Cultural Divide

Riding back home Friday night from a BBQ for students and teachers at the school where I teach, looking at the student sleeping soundly beside me, I wondered: Can we ever know what they go through?  Far away from home, with few people who speak their language, with nothing written in their native tongue.  What must they deal with every day?  The loneliness, the sadness, the language barriers, the cultural barriers, and things and situations that we can never understand, that we will never experience, because we are not Korean or Japanese or Chinese or Indonesian or Indian or Pakistani or Russian or Saudi Arabian.

One of my housemates is Korean, and he told me one day that we (American teachers) can have no idea what these students go through, subjected to U.S. Immigration Laws, subjected to the rising and falling value of their home currency versus the dollar, subjected to a new world that they may only know from movies, or television, or books; a world that is unlike those movies, or TV shows, or books.

And can they ever know what we go through?  I found out yesterday that I am only teaching one class this term. One 1-hour class for four weeks.  And, soon after I found out about this, I got an email, saying that enumeration for the census will be finishing up soon.  For some of us, it will end this week.  For others, it may end next week.  Normally I wouldn't complain.  I will have more free time to see movies and volunteer at SIFF.  But, with only one class to teach, I don't need more free time.  I need more money.

So perhaps, on this, we can understand each other.  Maybe not completely, but enough to empathize.

And to care.


  1. I think it is good to have suffering and such experiences in life. Because not only do we grow we can also better understand or comfort people going through similar things. Often I feel so helpless because I just don't know what others are going through. Of course, this thought doesn't exactly make hard times better but it just shows you God can work through the bad things too.
    Sorry, I'm not sure if this is even making sense or if it's relevant. Ah, well...

  2. Actually, I had that same thought today on the bus (or was it yesterday?). The more we suffer, the more empathetic we can become, but only if we choose that option. Some people suffer and never become empathetic, while others never suffer and are full of empathy.

  3. You seem to speak very much the same lingo I do. There are so many divides between people, like husband/wife. Seeing a bit of movies from different places like US, Iran, Zambia etc etc, people seem to have so much more in common than not.

  4. To quote Maya Angelou, "We are more alike my friend/Than we are unalike."


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