Posts tagged Cultural Barrier
Posts tagged Cultural Barrier
This happened back in January. About work. I received a no-subject e-mail from the big boss with just the words, “can you see me for 5 mins?”. Let me tell you that I NEVER speak to him nor have I had any meetings with him. I was somewhat worried. I was thinking to myself things like, “how long does it take to say ‘you’re fired’”.
Anyway, when I visited him upstairs it turns out that he was about to call a client in China and wanted to know how to pronounce the business name - so he thought calling me would give him the correct answer?
Umm. I’m Vietnamese. I’m not Chinese. It’s an entirely different tongue and language. We use completely different alphabets. Vietnamese uses the Latin alphabet. Yes it had been romanized long ago.
I thought this was funny so I shared this story with my supervisor. He laughed but then piped in, “well, you should have an idea of the pronounciation based on your background, right?”.
HAH! Oh yes, all of us south-east asian immigrants know all about the languages from China, Indonesia, Thailand, Korea, and Japan. All of their different alphabets too! That means everyone in say… Italy knows all about French, German, Polish, and Russian right?
So my dad doesn’t wash his hands after he uses the bathroom. That is pretty gross. I actually get mad everytime I don’t hear the tap running after I hear the toilet flushing.
We use the same bathroom and now I’m finding it utterly disgusting that we touch the same door knob. I’m always touching my face (eczema) too and I wonder if any of the filth transfers to my face. Grr!
I told my mom about it this week and this is how it went,
Me: *unimpressed face*
Mom: “Don’t tell your father.”
Mom: “If you tell him, he will just get mad.”
Me: “And why would he get mad.”
Mom: “He is messed up in the head.” *she gestures around her head* “Let me talk to him instead.”
This also isn’t the first time I have brought up this matter. There were at least three other occassions:
I tagged this as “cultural barrier”, but is it really culture or just someone being an asshole?
What happens upon my attempt to talk to my cousins in Vietnamese…
Ciao cu Song! Em co khoe khong? Xin loi. Tieng Viet cua chi San khong duoc ro. Duoi chi viet tieng Anh. Dinh va Nhi co khoe khong? Chi San khoe manh. Bay gio chi di lam binh thuong va duoc tiet kiem nhieu tien! Haha :) Co duoc gap Anh Trung duoc chua? Wow, Song dep trai! :) Song bao nhieu tuoi roi - 21 tuoi phai khong?
Chi khong biet noi chuyen di nua. Chi San hoi tam gia dinh cua em Song OK?
MY COUSIN’s REPLY:
hello Chi.San e thi lai k bk tieng anh nen phai?noi chuyen bang tieng viet nam e van khoe?gia dinh ai cug?binh thuong e h moi ra truong va bay chua biet lam gi nua hi nen phai?doi.e co gap.Anh Trung di choi nhieu lam hi bay gio`A Trung o?sai gon roi`cug?hay phone noi chuyen voi’ A Trung lam’ hi
It wasn’t such a good day yesterday. My eczema was in its usual dry, itchy, and sore state but nothing exceptionally bad. My uncle and his wife came to visit us from Florida. I’ve met my uncle years ago, but this was before my eczema outbreak. It may be difficult to believe, but I’m always scared to say hi to Vietnamese/Asian people of the older generation. My skin disease always becomes the topic of conversation and it hurts me to have to stand there, be polite, and smile.
I’ve experienced it time and time again. It must be cultural thing. To point out anything out of normalcy. They don’t know that it hurts. If you’re a bit overweight, they will point it out. If you have acne, it will be pointed out. In my perspective, and in the perspective of any Westerner, this would be considered outright RUDE. But in reality, this is part of south-east Asia culture. They are mentioning these things because they are “concerned”.
What I feared is exactly what happened. My uncle and his wife arrived at my home, I said hi, and the first thing they did was examine my skin. My uncle held my arm and looked at it, both he and his wife were saying things like,
Wow it’s so bad huh?
Oh dear her skin is so dry.
Can’t believe nothing has worked.
It’s funny because I made sure to fully moisturize before seeing them. My arms aren’t even my worst parts. Can’t imagine what they would think when they saw how dry I am in the mornings.
Later that evening my uncle from California called my home asking about my other uncle. I haven’t met or talked to my California uncle since I was 5 years old. After some superficial conversations he then asked about my skin condition. Why? What are you going to do with this information? What can you do or say that would HELP me! I haven’t met you since I was five!
I’m trying my best to stay strong and not let it get to me. I’m also trying to stop eczema from becoming my identity. I’m more than that. But situations like this do not make it easy for me. Just the fact that they bring up my poor quality skin every time still bothers me after all these years. Immediately after the ordeal I hid in my room and cried for a very long time. They don’t know how hard I’m trying to fight this disease.
Sorry for another long post. It is difficult to explain cultural differences through text.
Haha. I just asked my parents if I would be able to sleep over SC’s home. They didn’t like the idea. I knew the answer before I asked, but I thought I would give it a try just on the off-chance that they would say yes. I’m 25, asian, and their youngest daughter. My brothers can go anywhere they please. I have experienced a lot of gender inequality growing up.
Most people tell me that I don’t need their permission at this point, I’m old enough - what can they do? And it’s true. They can’t do anything if I go off on my own. However, I still want to respect my parents’ wishes. We have a good relationship. It’s a cultural thing I guess.