The Importance of a Global Perspective
By Kendall Tich
Looming skyscrapers, gleaming lights and the faces of strangers greeted me as I first stepped off my 16 hour flight to Hong Kong.
I was 16 years old at the time, and forced to relocate to a country in which I only knew the four people sitting next to me on the plane—my family.
As American businesses look to expand overseas, their employees are sent to aid in these expansions, my father being one of them.
Along with these companies go the children of the employees sent abroad.
I can now call myself a Third Culture Kid, an expatriate, or expat of the United States and an international student.
I had moved to Hong Kong from a small town in New Jersey called Chester, located about an hour outside of New York City.
Having lived in the suburbs, I had never been accustomed to the rich city life and booming, metropolitan economy I would find upon my family’s relocation.
Hong Kong, and cities in China such as Beijing and Shanghai are predicted to surpass many cities in the United States economically in the next couple decades.
Although Hong Kong is certainly one of the most successful and metropolitan cities in the world, there is still much development that needs to be done in order for China’s economy and commerce to reach that of the United States.
That being said, job opportunities, commerce, developing cities, and new skyscrapers all prove that Asia is certainly growing.
But even in the midst of these business expansions, the culture of the Chinese people is what makes this part of the world so intriguing.
Many travellers return to the U.S. with the idea that the people in the countries they visit are just like those in America.
In some ways, this is true. However, I found that the traditions and characteristics that make up foreign countries’ cultures and identities are far different from those of the U.S.
The people of China, for instance, have a tremendously different lifestyle than those native to Hong Kong, even though these two countries are in such close proximity to one another.
Hong Kong was under the rule of Great Britain until 1997, and many of Britain’s influences were left behind. China has also spread its influence south to Hong Kong.
However, contrary to what many Americans assume, the native people of Hong Kong identify themselves differently than those native to China.
Both Hong Kong and China’s people were perhaps the most reverential people to which I had ever been exposed.
This, in part, makes Hong Kong one of the safest cities in the world, since respect is so ingrained into its culture.
As the world becomes progressively more interconnected and as more Americans travel and relocate to areas of Asia, those expats must strive to connect with the native cultures and societies that make up such unique countries.
In my time so far at USD, it is comforting to have met many others who have travelled and lived abroad.
The experiences and perspectives they bring to this university will help educate others in the importance of understanding the multitude of cultures that make up the world.
From my relocation to Hong Kong and my travels around Asia, I’ve learned there is a need for global perspective and respect and acceptance of native cultures and people.
For American businesses and businesspeople to truly succeed overseas, they must first have a global understanding and the knowledge and respect to interact with societies much different from their own.