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Journals from Hong Kong 2008

2009-01-07 Cultural Clash

The first email I received from Mike was a kind reminder. The second was ripe with agitation but the third was the worst. The anxiety it embodied was nearly tangible. I didnt understand; we still had two weeks before our project was due. Why was he so insistent on receiving my finished part when there was still plenty of time to get it done? In my marketing class I was in a project group with a Brazilian, two French girls and a local Hong Kong student named Mike. We are all exchange students except for Mike and we were the only exchange students in the class of about 50. Mike didnt have to be in our group but chose to join us to get to know the exchange students and learn about our culture. It was nice to see him show interest. What is funny about the situation are the cultural differences in work ethics. The Chinese and Hong Kong students work on homework in a proactive way (they do work a little at a time) and they like turning assignments in early. I had not even started my section of the marketing project when Mike sent us an email about meeting to begin compiling the project data. The typical European college student style (and especially American style) is to do projects and homework close to when they are due, including the night before. Mike was obviously not aware of that. Given his insistence, my group members and I were able to get our work done in a timely enough manner, but were amazed by how important it was for Mike to get the project done early. There was certainly cultural clashing and I hope the experience doesnt discourage Mike from working with exchange students again. It was a good experience for me because there will always be situations were I will have to work in a group. The more practice I have with people who have clashing ideals to mine, the better prepared I can be for future situations. Although Mike was a little ball of stress, I admire his motivation and Im glad I got the chance to work with him.

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