Interesting things I learned from hosting an intercultural dialogue event
Shayla O'Connor | Tuesday, November 3, 2020
This event was a really unique opportunity to sit down with students from across the world to discuss topics ranging from the pandemic and politics to hobbies and cultural nuances.
1. In Japan the pandemic has caused a rapid increase in teen pregnancies
This was surprising because we haven’t had a similar problem in America. Talking with the Japanese students they explained that their sex education is vastly different than America’s and also because birth control is super hard to get. They said that they didn’t know anyone who used birth control personally, which was a big shock considering most women I know in America do use it.
2. In China and Korea stimulus checks are only given to men
To clarify, they’re given for the whole family, but only made out to the male head of household. This has become a problem because some of the men aren’t responsibly distributing the funds to other family members or aren’t spending it on necessary goods, instead choosing to use it for themselves while their family struggles. It also puts women who want to get a divorce in a difficult position, as if they leave they don’t have a good chance at getting a job in this market and will for sure not get any government assistance. But when the SMC students brought up that our government has stopped giving out stimulus checks altogether, the students from the Asian countries were all upset on our behalf, and so we all agreed that it’s better to have some money coming in and maybe not being used right than none at all.
3. Hobbies students from Asian universities started during quarantine
I was really shocked to hear how many of them decided to casually learn another language. Students from Japan, China and Korea were switching between multiple languages as well as English with complete ease. I’m embarrassed to say that after many years of Spanish classes my skills are still stupidly unremarkable, and yet these women were seemingly fluent after only a few months! And self taught, too!
Many of the Asian students also talked about trying to lose weight, which was interesting because none of the SMC girls mentioned anything similar. I know weight loss didn’t spring to my mind when we started talking about hobbies. This may be because of the strict diet culture over in Asia, or because of the traction the body positivity movement has been gaining in the West. Or maybe they’re all just more health conscious. I can’t say, but it was good food for thought.
The point of the event was to boost intercultural communication and create a dialogue between students of different countries and cultures in a time of great unrest. I believe that this event can be beneficial in fostering international friendships and uniting those from different cultures via common interests and struggles we all have. This event was a great start and hopefully will continue for years to come as an annual conversation that will promote peace and kindness.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.