Tuesday, April 23, 2013

When in Rome....or Hong Kong, Bangkok, London or Detroit, Michigan!

We often hear the term, when in Rome do as the Romans do. But do we really know what that looks like? As a person who travels the globe, I can assure you that I love the different cultures. I love the food, the smell of the flowers, the clothes, and most importantly the people. While spending the month of April traveling and working in Asia, I really became a part of the landscape. I drank Chinese tea, learned how to say different greetings in Cantonese Vs. Mandarin and how to dress for each day in compliance with Thai culture. As I watched the locals blend in between the busy streets of local vendors and still merge into the glamorous shops of the malls of LV and Chanel I realized that being politically correct is not necessary - what is necessary is being real, being gracious, thoughtful and nice. No one questions whether or not what you believe is the truth or what they believe is more important. I think it is time that the citizens of the United States of America stop tripping over our words with each other and focus on the reality of living the American Dream. If you can afford a luxury car or an expensive watch and I can't - so be it! If you like to donate your personal time to helping others in need, so be it. We are not the same and often cultural diversity in the USA gets to much attention on the wrong things. Instead of trying to say the "right" thing, just enjoy the differences and be nice. While in Thailand I met a young boy whose parents were worried he was headed for trouble. He was a bully (as he admitted to me) and so they sent him to boarding school in England and to Michigan State in the US. He said the best thing in the world was that he learned that his bullying was not nice. Although he was not bullied in the US, he said he stood out as the only "Thai" kid in the dorm. In fact so much so that his nickname now is TAI! He came back to Bangkok and met with each person he had bullied over the years to apologize. This story doesn't just belong to a young boy who grew into a fine gentleman, it applies to everyone of us. Stop trying to make our world the same - as Americans we should appreciate that the food they eat in Louisiana is different than food in Michigan. What we refer to as Hamburgs in Michigan may be Hamburgers to the rest of the world - my point is to get over it and enjoy the freedom of America. We are different and I love to explore our differences just like around the world. Stand tall, stand proud and be happy you call America home if that is where you live - if not, enjoy your country, your culture and welcome each day with joy!