Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency offered each of the Cadets on our trip the opportunity of a lifetime. The knowledge and personal growth gained from the trip will last us a lifetime.
The growth experience can be equally attributed between our interactions with the Chinese culture and working within our team. Our group was comprised of East Coast, West Coast, Mid-west, and even a Puerto Rican school. The United States, like China, has its own sub-culture dependent on the region. Some of the Cadets on the trip had never left their respective regions and it became very clear that we could all learn something from each other.
Our group became a melting pot of differing perceptions on what we encountered in China. To better understand these conclusions you first need to understand our group and some of what was experienced.
From Sea-to-Shining-Sea could be used to describe the scope of schools represented in our group. Here is the list; Cadet Bingham representing the University of Colorado, Cadet Hall representing the University of Florida, Cadet Kilgore representing the University of Nevada Reno, Cadet Newhouse representing Gonzaga University, Cadet Valera representing the University of Pittsburgh, Cadet Vazquez representing the University of Puerto Rico, Cadet Watkins representing Ferris State in Central Michigan, and our Cadre member Lt. Col. Kennedy representing Pennsylvania State University.
Though we had two of the group members, Lt Col. Kennedy and Cadet Valera, from the same state, we still saw sub-cultural differences; eastern verse western Pennsylvania.
It seems to be human nature that causes this, because though China is considerably opposite to the United States in a variety of aspects, this theme of perceptions derived from sub-cultures is as strong there as it is here, in the states.
The theme here of how people see the world through their own personal filter seems to be developed based on the region they are from. When looking at our group from an outsider view, say from the Chinese viewpoint, we are all just Americans, but once we began to interact with them they started to realize, as we did, that though all American we have our values somewhat centered on our region.
When working with the Cross Cultural Solutions program, specifically the English corner, which allowed us to interact with the university level Chinese students, it was brought up in discussion how, generally speaking, people from Shanghai look down upon those who do not share their wealth and what they consider their subsequent class. This idea is not isolated to China, it too can be found here in the United States as well as across the globe.
The CULP trip opened this forum for thought on how we could use what we learned in China and apply it to all of the cultures and people that we will undoubtedly interact with in the future. There were discussions between Cadets of how this relates to our current wars and that there is never a universal way of doing anything, because of these views and sub-cultures that policies need to be flexible to fit differing regions. Also, a more open-minded approach to meeting and interacting with others will be considered by all of us.
Cadet Rob Bingham receives a “high five” from a Chinese kindergartener while teaching English at a local school in Xi’an, China.