Around the World

Was eating dinner with my big and twin, and we got into an interesting topic of cultures. Well… to be honest it started because I was talking about the difficulty of trying to learn piano after having played violin for 3/4 of my life. Having never really regarded the thumb and always starting to count one from my index finger, piano just made no sense to me when 1 started with the thumb and the fingerings ended with 5 rather than 4. Okay, a better way to put it is that my brain has become so hardwired to start with the index finger that muscle memory prevents me from learning the piano efficiently.

This brought us into a conversation about cultures, because I pointed out that in America, when we count with our fingers, we start with the index finger and end with the thumb. But in Germany, they start counting with the thumb–like a pianist. There are some cultures where nodding is a no and shaking the head is a yes. There are all these mannerisms that we take for granted and believe are universal… yet in reality they are completely arbitrary and unique. It’s shocking yet beautiful in a way. So in actuality, where is the right and wrong? Something could be right in one culture…and wrong in another.

I think I want to extend this conversation to a topic that’s been on my mind a lot: parenting and education, namely Asian parenting and education. There have been a lot of recent articles about psychologically “wrong” Asians who try and may have succeeded in causing their parents’ demise. My big pointed out that the news is quick to immediately question Asian parents and the pressure they put on their children, but that may not really be the case. Especially when the current generation of Asians living in America is the first, we often find ourselves straddling between two worlds in a sense–initially raised in one yet learning about another. There are so many other factors like the liberal movement in America towards same-sex marriage and many Asian cultures not being accepting of that, or the competitive spirit within school, or an emotional time caused by people other than their parents… Why is there this stigma around Asian parenting specifically? And also, how is the parenting sometimes able to shoot people to stardom whereas others are just not mentally strong enough to withstand such expectations? And as I ask this question, why does it have to be a cultural thing? Why can’t it be an individual disparity?

Food for thought.

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Around the World

2 thoughts on “Around the World

  1. Another huge difference I see is the prioritization of passion (typically more of an American Dream ideal) vs prioritization of practicality (more prevalent among ABCs). The latter is definitely another facet of Asian parenting, and that’s where I reallyy personally feel the “straddling between two worlds.” I often find myself thinking “I wish I was born loving something that was more practical” which is silly because 1) I haven’t given myself a chance to try more “pratical things” 2) who says my interests can’t be “practically applied” 3) why worship practicality?

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  2. Exactly. Personally, I also wish I were on fire for CS because that would probably make sitting for eight hours a day a bit more enjoyable. And that is also when I wonder where the cultural disparity starts because in general, all parents want the best for their children, and it does make sense that they value practicality and stability for their children’s sake. But is it REALLY a cultural disparity of that mindset? And if so, WHY is it a cultural disparity? I honestly can’t really pinpoint, at least in Asian culture, where practicality comes to mind…

    Or I take that back. Do you think it might be because of the idea that the children will need to support the family someday and because of that, they will need to have a stable/practical job to provide that foundation?

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