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Monthly Archives: June 2012

I know that in my previous post I wrote “I love Asia” I do, I really do. However I noticed some qualities of us Asians that are really need to be improved.

So as I’ve told you before, I am now in AUN Educational Forum where I interact with students and lecturers from ASEAN+3 (Japan, Korea, and China) Nations. The culture and the lifestyle I felt here is……well how to put it? Say, so Eastern.

Okay so here are the qualities.

Firstly, I hate it so much on how our people are not attentive and appreciative to people who are speaking in front. I hate it so much on how we often sleep during presentation and lectures. I hate it so much on how we often talk loudly with the ones sitting beside us during a speech. I hate it so much that we don’t even care and won’t even bulge to change it.

Secondly, we have had too much Eastern Sincerity. Seriously. We have too many tea breaks. We have too many spare time. We have too many time scheduled for socializing, without even focusing on the forum/conference itself. Socializing is good, I wholeheartedly agree. Well, I am not saying that it is wrong, but I think it is incomplete should we go to a competition, moreover international ones, but without making friends and socialize with the others. However, I think it is excessive if we inefficiently use our limited time and even more, use all those precious times and productive hours for tea breaks. Dude, like seriously! I have had enough tea breaks already.

Thirdly, time. efficiency. I intentionally use bold, italic, and underlined words there to stress out my point. Relevant to my second point, I do think that sometimes we use too much time to do these socializing parts that we even forget our main goal when we came here. Perhaps we do it to please our guests, but please do mind the time efficiency and schedules of the events. The fourth thing is relevant to this one.

Fourth, we hold back. I know this is the main difference between Western and Eastern culture. The Western people are so straightforward that if we don’t like an attitude of a certain somebody we tell them right away. On the contrary, we Eastern culture holders chooses to maintain relationship and harmony that if we have an objection to someone, instead of telling them straightforwardly, we keep it to ourselves, we hold back. Sometimes, we also put grudge in them, true? I’m not saying that we should fully leave our own culture, but please, to some extent, those qualities are needed, especially when the critics are constructive.

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I have just realized how much MUN has influenced my life, especially on international conferences/activities like this. In this AUN forum and contest, we interact with people from the ASEAN+3 Countries, rite. So, the thing is that unconsciously, I act like these are all MUN activities! Well it is true that this is in fact, a model of ASEAN+3 Summit, but, come on, in daily activities, I even use this MUN mindset.

So the procedure for the educational forum is first presenting the papers from each of the participants, and after several participants, we will have tea break for 15 minutes and then proceed. Unconsciously, I scribbled “Tea Break = UNMOD!!!!!” in the schedule card. I know, right?

I even observe the dining seating arrangement, the bus seating preferences, the free time friends, and all those stuffs and conclude who are who’s friend, who are the alliances, who are the leader, who are the strong ones, the bitchy ones, so on and so forth. These blocs, unconsciously, makes my views upon the peers from the other bloc biased and thus I became……a little (if not much) subjective.

In my presentation, I opened my speech with “Distinguished delegate…”. I used the term delegate rather than representatives. 

I even thought like who are the ones that are being fake just to be able to shine on the forum. I even talked about the other delegate with another. We were making blocs.

But, you know, MUN has made this one prominent change in me. Now, I am so into nakal-nakal berprestasi. Nyahahahha.

I LOVE ASIA.

Asians have all the reasons to be proud of themselves. Asia is the largest continent in the world with the most diverse geographical conditions, diverse natural resources, largest market, and abundant culture. Asia has the most population – duh, India and China alone contributes one-third of the world population, and seven out of ten of the world’s most populous countries are located in Asia.

Actually I really think Asia should be divided into further continents, you know.

When in lectures, when my lecturer is discussing future trends, especially economics, Asia is definitely on the hot list – with the ever-growing market and emerging businesses, and abundant human resources.

I have always found Asian culture interesting. I love Europe and its culture, but Asians’ have their own attraction. Added with the Hallyu wave and the Japanese influence brought by Cardcaptor Sakura, currently, my interest in Asian culture surpasses my European interest.

Tonight I met people from various countries. I spoke to Chizuru and ms. Aki (KYAAA I feel like Sakura!!!!!!! #anaknorak) from Kyoto, Sun from Yunnan province, China, Oanh from Ho Chi Minh, and the couple from Laos. We talked about dining customs, cultural events, language, and so on and so forth.

It has always been my interest to learn new cultures. I got so pumped when talking about hanami, kimono, dialects of Kyushu and Tokyo and their differences I learned from Detective Conan, simple Japanese phrases I learned from Cardcaptor Sakura, and saying ohayou upon knowing that they are from Japan and saying oyasumi upon leaving. I got excited when I practiced my little Mandarin skill, saying wanshang hao when parting, and telling my passion and interests in China.

Asia RULES!

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Left to right: Lecturer from China, Chizuru, the Laos couple, Aki, Oanh, me, Pak Sandro, Sun, and Dani

I have this ambition of being able to speak at least three different languages. I can now speak Bahasa (of course), English, and a little Mandarin Chinese. My goal in the next two years is to be able to speak (at least…) daily and casual Mandarin conversation. I just love learning new languages!

Here, I met this Vietnamese named Oanh Nguyen. She is a very nice and friendly girl! Among our different English accents and misunderstandings, we managed to have some laughs, jokes, and even mock someone else. Muahaha. Nah, kidding on the latter.

I asked her to teach me some tiếng Việt phrases, such as greetings, thank you, and how to introduce ourselves. Trust me, it is hard. Much harder than Mandarin! When I learn Mandarin, I am surprised how mǎi and mài have different tones and opposite meanings (sell and buy, that is). I have learned English before, and read a little French, and although those French passages have lines and notations above the alphabets, it still can be learned quickly. When I studied Mandarin pinyin, I am utterly surprised knowing that those lines mean different tones which mean different meanings. O_O. Mandarin has four different tones. I have had enough difficulties in learning Mandarin with different tones that up to now, I still can’t speak proper Mandarin tones. Imagine how surprised I was, upon knowing that tiếng Việt has six. different. tones.

GAH!

So…after (finally!) being able to say greetings and thank you and introducing myself in Vietnamese (which, for your info, I have already forgotten), I asked Oanh to teach me a little about the Vietnamese alphabet by reading the words printed in the chopstick packaging below:

Viet

Giving up, I changed course to learning Vietnamese numbers. After struggling for 5 minutes or so, I am finally able to count 1-5 in Vietnamese!!!!!!!!! I don’t know how they are written, but they sound to me like “Mod, Hai, Ba, Mon, Nam”. KUDOS TO OANH!

After being able to do so, we had a little conversation:

Cahya: Thank you!

Oanh: Yeay! I will remind you later so that you will not forget them

Cahya: Cool. Now, if I succeed, you will have to teach me how to count from six to ten.

Oanh: Whoa. Ambitious girl.

 

……..a-okay.

No it is not the main character of the hip Thai movie Crazy Little Thing Called Love, it refers to Việt Nam.

I am currently writing from the Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City Guesthose. It is my second day here – although technically I haven’t spent 24 hours here. I am here for an education forum, discussing about how ASEAN youth could achieve global citizenship and intercultural competence. But, this post isn’t about what I am going to deliver in the forum, nor about global citizenship and intercultural competence – it is about uncle Ho’s city.

It took only 2,5 hours from Jakarta to Ho Chi Minh, with no time zone difference between the two cities. It is incredibly similar to Jakarta – with more honking, aggressive and fast drivers comparable to angkot drivers in Indonesia, more organized pedestrian walks and public parks. There are more parks here compared to Jakarta’s; larger and cleaner as well. In size, perhaps……they could be compared to Taman Lalu Lintas in Bandung. Generally, I daresay the city is much cleaner than Jakarta.

The buildings! I think Jakarta’s are much larger and more sophisticated. Buildings here are much simpler.

I spotted a transgender on the way to the guesthouse – and is definitely comparable to those found below Pasopati. Oke. Sip.

I saw a mall/shopping center too! PVJ is thrice better than that. *jahat* Amusingly, I saw a pirated DVD store and a boutique named “Topshop” with similar fonts with UK’s Topshop, but with contents of Mangga Dua. Hahahahaha. Oh how I love Asians.

The small shops are so much alike to Jakarta’s small shops and toko kelontong. They sell similar things, too. I saw a pasar kaget as well! So they put the things they sell (dolls, tees for 35,000 dong – 17,500 IDR, and bags) on a carpet on the road.

What different is that they have small cafes/food stalls (um I don’t know the correct term for this) outdoor and customers are seated in plastic stools/chairs, each spaced quite afar one from another. With the chairs are small plastic coffee table. Since it was already dark, I couldn’t see clearly the things they were eating/drinking. Hum.

The city has an excessive display of colored neon lights!

The roads are much smoother and larger than Jakarta’s. The steering wheel is located on the left, and they use right-hand traffic. The motorcycles’ helmets aren’t like the SNI-type of helmet, but only the top half type of helmet.

Physically, Vietnamese are closer to Chinese physical traits than to Malay.

Enjoying it so far! Well it didn’t give any special atmosphere or effect like when arriving in London or DC (well, duh, you don’t say…..) but am enjoying it! It is the third Southeast Asian countries visited after Singapore and Malaysia – which are considered not “foreign” thanks to Singapore’s cheap flights which make going to Bali is twice the price to Singapore, and Malaysia’s ultra-similar culture and people. I miss Singapore, though.

Oh well. Heading off to canteen for breakfast soon! See ya! 😉

To prepare me for my ASEAN Education Forum, my lecturer borrowed me a book titled Conflict Management in the Asia Pacific: Assumptions and Approaches in Diverse Culture, written by various authors writing each specific country and edited by Kwok Leung and Dean Tjosvold.

I have only read 2 chapters – the introduction and the conflict management in Korea – but I love it so much! The book explains how cross-cultural business in Asia Pacific could bear many conflicts due to the different culture – East-West, Japan-China, for example. The book is divided to twelve chapters where each chapter discusses a specific country, written by natives of that country.

It is very interesting to see people of different culture interact with each other, and how the two cultures could clash because of simple little things. For example, the Eastern culture that upholds harmony and seeks for relationship and social satisfaction in doing business and the Western culture that is more quality, output-based and seeks for market share and profitability in doing business. Eastern people would rather avoid conflict and keep their thoughts all to themselves and try as hard as they can to please their business partner personally. Western people, on the other hand, is much more straightforward. This can lead to a clash that will be considered rude for the Eastern people, and the Western people would feel the Eastern people ineffective in doing their work.

In an era where cross-cultural communication is abundant, studying these things and understanding how to manage the conflict is very crucial. For you who aren’t familiar with the subject, try reading “Hofstede’s Cultural Dimension” and see the scores of each nation. For me, it gives insight on how we should act with people from other culture, especially in business.

Studying these things is amusing! I am looking forward for the class in the upcoming semesters. Will definitely take it!