Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Had a small cultural crises

So I just got back from going out with a bunch of my friends from the program as well as our program facilitators and had an amazing night. To preface the rest of the story, however, I want to let everyone know that we spent all day looking at fundamental cultural differences in values between Thais and Americans through mechanisms such as Geert Hofstede's culural dimensions and the cultural spectrum. At the last bar we were at, Funky Villa, a live band was playing until 12, and we loved listening to them. However, at midnight, they turned off the lights, and American pop/dance music started playing. We were all so excited to hear the songs we love to dance to and we haven't heard since we left the states. The group of us were jamming and rocking out, but I realized that grinding isn't exactly part of Thai culture, where close bodily contact even amongst friends is not as acceptable as it is at home. Despite the switch from live music to a DJ, most groups kept chatting as opposed to dancing. I was trying to adapt myself to this cultural boundary while still having a good time and accepting the fact that I am American and that I have my own culture that I feel like I should be allowed to express. I so badly wanted to have a dance party, something so inherent in many American's social experiences. We learned today that in order to avoid conflict, Thai's will tend to tell you "My ben ry" (Everything's OK) even when they don't believe it is. Therefore, I'm always hesitant to take their word and believe that they aren't offended because unless they are joining in with you, they probably are. I think everything worked out OK, and I had an amazing night out with my friends, but I'm glad that I'm conscious of the fact that we're another culture and need to respect them while integrating our own tenets and traditions.

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