Breaking cultural stereotypes while making friends in exotic places. My recent trip to Beijing has opened my eyes as an American and as I now focus on finishing my degree in Educational Consulting, I hope to share my experiences and knowledge with others so they too can make a difference in the lives of others and their community.
Saturday, July 14, 2018
Do You Fit Into Your Culture?
I’m reading a book. There's nothing special about this. The book is like every other. There is an abundance of off-white pages full of black text telling a story about someone or something. My book is plain. The cover is crystal white with black text telling me that my book is written by a New York Times bestselling author. This means little to me. The thing that catches my eye, though, is the larger than life bolded, red text. It’s not all the different types of manipulation on the cover of the book that caught my attention when I was surfing Amazon one gloomy Saturday morning after returning from my trip from China.
“New York Times bestselling author…” or “More than one million copies sold” didn’t encourage me to buy this book. “How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action” did encourage me to buy the book, Start With Why, by Simon Sinek.
I thought the book was going to be like many of the other leadership books I’ve read in college. A simple list of steps to follow to become a leader and rules to follow to help become inspirational were what I was expecting. I didn’t get a step-by-step guide or rules. I was given suggestions based on successful leaders from around the world. Apple, Southwest Airlines, and the Wright Brothers were all discussed in length. I felt inspired.
Yet, this isn’t why I’m talking about this book. Start With Why has an abundance of resources and stories for people to learn from. Everything I’ve read so far has been extremely helpful from a business standpoint.
Unexpectedly, I reached the mid-point of the book and found a section—The Emergence of Trust— that is changing my life. After returning from China I felt lost. I originally thought I was just dealing with jetlag, as I was, but learned that I was dealing with something a bit more intense. My heart longed to go back to Beijing. I missed the noise, the skyscrapers, the food, and most of all, the people.
The Forbidden City
However, the ache only intensified the longer I was away from my second home. I didn’t know what to do. This ache was like the feeling I get when I’m stressed. When my hair started to fall out once again, I knew I had to do something. I have Morphea, a type of Scleroderma that is the easiest form of the disease to deal with (this is my opinion). Back in October 2017, I started losing my hair while in college. I knew why; the stress from classes and moving out of my parent’s home was difficult and a lot to deal with. I used a topical solution, that has worked in the past, to help encourage hair growth on my scalp. When I left on May 21, 2018, I still had bald spots on my scalp. The topical solution wasn’t working, and my stress level was at an all-time high.
I didn’t once use the topical solution when I was in China and my bald spots disappeared. I still have a long way to go but I was starting to see a change after fighting to promote hair growth for months. I still dealt with stress when I was in Beijing—probably even more than I do back home in Wisconsin, but I was able to somehow feel better when I was in China.
And this is where the book, Start With Why, comes in. In the section, The Emergence of Trust, Simon Sinek wrote, “It’s how they feel about their own opportunity and their own ability to thrive in a culture in which they feel like they belong versus the one they came from.” Sinek explained that this is the reason so many people emigrate to the United States of America because they believe WHY America is so great. The American culture values the American Dream. The American Dream is what almost everyone learns about and strives to reach in their lifetime.
But I feel as if I don’t fit into the American culture. This doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in the American Dream. I have an American Dream, something I easily call a “goal” rather than a dream because a dream isn’t always achievable.
I have a goal. My goal has changed many times. Different experiences have changed my personality, who I am, and how I perceive the world around me. I filled my early years with pitching my ideas by telling potential clients WHAT I do instead of WHY. I now focus on telling people WHY I do the things I do. WHY I started a tutoring business and WHAT I wish to accomplish. My WHY will determine what path I’ll take and if I’ll succeed in my lifetime.
All I needed to do was to find my passion. Unsurprisingly, to my friends, I’ve fallen in love with the Asian culture. There are many cultures in Asia and I find myself craving to learn more about the Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Thai culture. I fell in love with China and I was only there for a little over a month. As stated by Sinek, “We do better in cultures in which we are good fits. We do better in places that reflect our own values and beliefs.” And therefore, I feel like I fit better in China.
“Trust comes from being a part of a culture with a common set of values and beliefs,” wrote Sinek, while describing that trust must be maintained in business and everyday life to keep balance, clarity, and consistency.
Sinek continued, “Passion comes from feeling like you are a part of something that you believe in, something bigger than yourself.” And my passion has always been to help people who feel as if they’re unable to be helped. I enjoy bringing smiles to peoples faces when something ‘clicks’ or they have an “ah-ha” moment.
My WHY for starting a tutoring business is to raise awareness to the increased number of special education students who drop out of high school.
Middle of Beijing
My WHY for wanting to continue traveling around Asia is to share the countries true story and not what the tabloids and news stations filter through at nauseam.
As I continue to post about my time in Beijing, I feel myself slowly slipping away from all the stress that builds up in everyday life. For the three hours, I spend writing each of my posts, I find myself smiling and laughing while remembering the fun times and crying when seeing all the people I became friends with and had to leave behind to return home.
And to answer why my hair stopped falling out when I was in China, I feel like the only thing that makes sense is that I felt comfortable in my environment and I wasn’t feeling as stressed.
My time in Beijing has changed my life forever. I cried and struggled for three years to fulfill my dream of traveling to another country. I never thought my first international experience would have been China, but I’m glad it was because I now have a second family and friends who are waiting for my return.
I hope to see you all as I continue to blog about my adventure in Beijing and start presenting programs at several Fox Valley libraries about my experience and how I’ll show what the real China is like.