Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Political Debate that Blossomed to a Beautiful Learning Experience

Coming home that night, we enjoyed some wine and conversation at my host’s downstairs bar. Many of his friends in the building go downstairs and socialize and I was looking forward to meeting their fellow condo buddies.  The girls were so sweet-one Vietnamese and one from Penang and a nice guy from Ethiopia.  My host’s roommate and my host were busy studying so I entertained myself downstairs with their nice friends.

Another American guy came from Texas, Eric(not real name). He seemed to have been drinking already as his speech was a little slurred.  He had been living in Malaysia for 3 years and was working for Dell.  We began to talk about what we did not like about America and our friend from Ethiopia shared his opinions. We began to debate about America’s culture, resources, economy, and superiority complex.  Eric was so proud to be from America yet he had no interest in ever going back to America. We continued to address his contradictions and he continued to make ignorant statements about Africa and the money we have supplied them.  He was raising his voice and interrupting Y(the man from Ethiopia) constantly. 
I had to mediate between both of them and give each of us turns to speak our peace.  I encouraged us all to think in a solution focused way on how to change the system.  Both Eric and I came to the agreement that America is so deep in a hole that one single person can not dig us out and it takes an entire restructuring. 
Overtime, Eric’s lowered his voice, he stopped interrupted and started actively listening, and he was able to understand Y’s perspective and cultural differences.  This loud, obnoxious American guy turned into a calm, quiet, solution focused man. People may be reading this saying, “So what Priscilla.”

Again, I would like to emphasize the beauty of different cultures coming together and learning from one another.  Eric learned about his behavior and how his negative statements/stereotypes can impact others.  Y was so upset with what he was hearing and I also was  very upset with the ignorance and disrespect.  This conversation came around 360 into three human beings addressing and learning from our differences, especially how to make the world a better place. 

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