Wednesday, January 20

Stereotypes and Discrimation

I work in an international kindergarden and in private I find myself in a circle of many nationalities. No wonder, because I come from the Philippines, The V. comes from Bulgaria and we live in Germany where we don't really have any family at all. So to make the story short I am indeed a member of the international community here and find myself between people from all over the world. In my workplace, there are at least 20 nationalities that convive and in my private life there must be another 20 nationalities I interact with.

When it comes to dealing with different nationalities - does stereotyping help to understand the other culture better or does it just complicate the matter? I've read,heard and experieced that Asians or at least South East Asians cannot directly say a brutal no. The V read somewhere in one sociology book about Asians that you have to ask them three times to get the real answer of a favour or something. Normal no answers would be " , i'll think about it, or  ummm.. yes, maybe, i'll try my best ... ah.. it depends.. but a brutal no! --we are too polite..

Americans normally say how are you? But they don't really wait for your answer and just go on with their day. This is almost their way of saying hello. So don't take it seriously and just say I'm fine thank you and  move on, better yet just say how are you too, without waiting for an answer. However, Germans normally meant it when they ask how you are. And people don't normally ask that out of the blue unless they are patient to hear about how your holiday, your job, your family and your health is (basic topics of the day).

I work with an Italian and he feels he is the king and has the say. My colleagues say, don't take it seriously, he's Italian, he's a macho what can you expect. My co teacher is from an a former republic of Russia - other colleagues say she's fresh, temperamental and yes, what can you expect she's almost Russian.

I have a  Dutch mother  in my class, I  ask her from time to time  to bring something for a snack and it never happens. Her answer to me, sorry I'm Dutch, you know we are very stingy. I'm sure you've heard of that - yup, Dutch treat it is! Well that stereotyping did not come from me but from her.

This post could go on and on, as I 've said I live in a multi-cultural world - it does sometimes help me to understand the other person if I go back to the stereotype. I did forget  how cultural differences could be and lost a friendship.. well maybe that friendship is doomed after all. However, I won't like it if  people would label me and not give me the chance to prove myself otherwise.


Kayni said...

i have to admit that i have a hard time saying 'no.' but that doesn't mean all Southeast Asians do. it could be a product of how one is raised, but since a community raises a kid, that's probably why most Southeast Asians have a hard time saying 'no.' these days though, living in the US somehow affected me and that saying 'no' is ok. i "try" (with emphasis) not to stereotype, but i do meet a lot of people who stereotype people and that i have become a victim of it. it's not pleasant, but who can blame them. i, myself, have the tendency of stereotyping people as well.

kg said...

i guess it's part of human beings to stereotype, even in the smallest of things, like regarding education ("ay, taga UP kasi") or place or residence ("ay, taga tondo kasi") or even just gender ("babae kasi"). but i think it's really part of our human nature that being part of a "group" will entail some similarities among members, thus the stereotyping.

Gattina said...

You make me smile ! I live this for over 40 years and it doesn't get better. Italians are machos (my poor Mr. G) Germans only eat Sauerkraut, and of course the Dutchs are stingy ! The French are the best (???) lovers (hahahaha !) I don't know when this will end, it doesn't matter, look at the Americans and what came out in this melting pot. I am sure in one family you can find at least 5 or 6 different nationalities ! Of course we are influenced by our education, the uses in a country etc. but at the end we are all simply humans.
BTW when I landed here in Belgium, I had to deal with old Hitler although I was a baby after the war ! that was annoying ! I didn't dare to say that I am German ! Now it's OK.

Toni said...

Kayni - yup you are right it's almost human nature but we just have to remind ourselves about it and that makes us more open and understanding of the differences between people

Kg - yup I remember those college days in the Philippines! Always the same question, which college are you from? I often give them those universities you don't really want to go to if you have a choice and it always amazes me if people move away from me!

Gattina - oh my goodness! I have heard a few times someone tell me, I am so German - both in the negative and positive contexts! Can you believe that?