I have some interesting stories to tell you this month that reveal some of the lesser known cultural differences between S.E. Asia and the U.S.A.
John, my wife Tati’s 16 year old son, told us of an incident he had just witnessed at a police station. A teenager had been riding around the local area on his motorcycle with the muffler disengaged.. causing an enormously loud roar.. which was disturbing the neighborhood. The police intercepted the young driver and took him and the motorcycle to the local Police Station. While there, several policemen tied the young drivers hands behind his back, started his motorcycle engine, picked up the motorcycle driver in their arm, turned him upside down and lowered him head first close to the engines exhaust port and revved up the engine.
This incident also reminds me of the American teenager living in Singapore, who was caught several years ago making large scratches on cars with a metal blade. The teen was switched, beaten or spanked on his back with reeds causing outrage with some and applause from others.
There seems to always be effectiveness trade off’s when 1st and 3rd world cultures collide.
Two weeks ago our adopted 2nd grade son Timothy was crying when he came home from school. He said his teacher hit him and called him stupid because he could not answer a math question. I wanted to confront the teacher immediately, while Tati took it in stride saying Timothy will study harder because he does not want to be embarrassed and frightened again. If I complained to the teacher or school administration Timothy and our family would be labeled as trouble makers.
Tati’s observation of the solution to the problem has worked. Timothy studied hard and now knows his times tables…. His teacher tells him she is pleased with him …..And Timothy asked us if he could buy chocolate for his teacher for Valentine’s Day. Go figure.
At our Bali Training Center, I am continuingly observing the children and evaluating our programs to determine what is effective and what needs changing. This 1st world hands on approach is definitely necessary for our organizations success and the children’s development.
…. At the same time that I am making evaluations, Tati, being in the 3rd world mode of living in the moment with no agenda, will just sit on the entryway steps as the children enter for school. What happens next is truly enlightening. The children, especially the girls will gather around Tati and start talking to her. I don’t know the specifics of what the girls say but Tati nods affirmatively, smiles and just listens to them calmly and unhurried.
We truly believe that we are all beneficiaries of the exposure to different cultures… especially the children.