The article illustrates the difference in opinion of people who grow up in two different countries: China and Afghanistan. The topics discussed included but not limited to success, peace, and education. When I first got the chance to talk to an unknown Afghanistan student, I decided that it is a good opportunity to discuss their opinion on those topics. Since I grew up in China, I thought it would mean a lot when I put the difference in opinion together and contrast them. By putting all those opinions together, I would be able to know what are the specific differences in the opinion and figure out what are the causes of the differences. There is an old saying in Chinese: everyone was born as a blank paper. The different opinion and values must be planted in their minds in the process of growing up. The experiments and the investigation would get advanced while more and more information are collected from the Afghan students.
The Pax Populi Academy selects the discussion topics. During the semester, the first student that I talked to went missing. To avoid failing the project, the program manager helped by rearranging a student for me to discuss and interview. As a result, I did not go through all the topics that I was supposed to do. Fortunately, success, peace, and education are three representative topics and are useful enough for me to find out the differences. In the end, I would be able to know what are the factors that might build up to one’s personal values and worldviews.
Opinion about General Topics between Chinese, American, and Afghan
When I talked to both of the students about success, no one had a clear answer. However, the first student was more ambiguous in her responses. Both students mentioned that when someone is happy in life, he should be successful. However, the interesting fact is that the second student illustrated that the people who are of higher social class and level are harder to be successful. In fact, when people reach higher social class, they tend to have more power and money, while lower class individuals have more basic needs in life. Thus, the higher-class people are often harder to get satisfied. Based on this knowledge, when one is in higher social class, he is hard to be a success.
In China, many people think that simply being in the higher social class is successful. As China is now experiencing the fast growing period, it is easy to understand that the Chinese overlook power and wealth. However, what interesting is that why the second student would be able to understand the difference in social level and point out the level of satisfaction (Thompson, Mazer & Witenberg, 1955). In later discussion, she mentioned to me that she is from a family that considered living in higher social class, which is different from the first student. This might be the cause that she has more clear definition and the idea of the social class, which gives her more knowledge about the satisfaction theory. The second student’s name is Hosnia. Her mother is a doctor working as a genealogy expert, and her father is an engineer. Living in this kind of family, she discovered that as her parents keep working harder, it gets more and more difficult to be successful and get what they want. For the first student Zahra, she only told me that everyone works hard and enjoys his life can be considered successful.
It gets more interesting when we start to talk about peace in Afghanistan because there is much more terrorism comparing to other parts of the world. Statistics shows that in 2015, there are 5292 people died because of terrorism attacks. Growing up in China, the world was much more peaceful to me. When I asked the students about their opinion on peace, I was expecting they would think to feel scared about the environment they live in. However, the result is that they told me they feel sad about the country and the terrorism. The killings are not scary to them, but the death of people from the same race and same country affects their mind. This is because of their cultural ties that bind them together to protect their community interests. The students told me that when you see terrorism so often, you are getting used to it. However, when the news keeps telling you one people die after another, the emotion of sadness is what lasts there forever.
Since I grew up in China, which is a country lead by communism, I tend to know more about it. When we were discussing peace, I mentioned to both students that communism might be the ultimate solution for ending wars (Lemert, 2013). Surprisingly, only Hosnia mentioned that the ultimate communism might not be as stable as we thought it would be. She clarified that when we reach a situation that everyone can get what they want; it is likely to have a group of people who do not want to contribute to the society at all. Those people might hurt the society in a true communism. I was interested into this opinion. She told me she got this point of view from his father. Her father worked in Russia for several years. When she was growing up, this idea of “communism is not going to work” was planted deeply in her mind. I found out that parents experience would influence their children’s value and view the world we live in.
These two students helped elaborate on the idea that people view things differently; they have a different perception of life than mine. They do not feel like the world will be entirely at peace or safe. One argued that the term peace offers a promise and hope of something better. However, she added that this promise and hope does not always come to be and that at times peace is unattainable. This argument is supported from what she has been through and what she has encountered. People often act in a way that shows what the community has taught them. A community is an entity that takes up physical space, which implies that it has set boundaries (Kirst-Arshman & Hull, 1998). If you ask some other different people, they might end up arguing that peace is attainable if it has not already been attained.
When I asked them about gender biases, they were quick to point out that there will always be a gap between males and their female counterparts. Most people who are already done with school spend most of their time in work organizations that are male dominated (Acker, 1990). This aspect has not entirely changed over the years as women and men are regarded differently. Hosnia argued that the world is continually trying to bridge the gap between the male and female gender and there has been an impressive change over the years. However, she argued that the gap between the two genders will never be entirely closed and the men will always enjoy an upper hand.
Zahra, on the other hand, argued that there is a gap between the two genders because they are presented with different roles. This student argued that people see the differences between they wish men and women alike did the same duties. However, women will feel the need to do more nurturing jobs while men will want to do jobs that are more technical, which creates the gap between these two parties. Gender inequality has been a rampant issue over the years, and thus this issue is never completed solved.
Growing up in China made me understand that there are many kinds of biases other than gender inequality; people are treated differently because of their color, race, ethnicity, originality among other aspects. Racism has been an issue of concern over the years. These students argued that have Afghan roots makes them vulnerable to this kind of inequalities. People feel that Muslims are terrorists and this is stipulated more depending on their home country.
The gender divide separates people; arguments exist that a person is not born but becomes a woman (Butler, 1998). This argument serves to insinuate that being a woman is something that eventually develops. This tries to justify the argument that women are not always overlooked, but rather they judge how they will be treated. However, gender inequalities have been diminishing, but it is still present. The development has been seen in every state in the nation; millennial women are more likely to get a college degree than millennial men (Smilowitz, 2015). However, this development has also seen great hindrances, which are shown in the fact that these millennial women also have lower earnings and higher poverty rates than the millennial men.
Zahra argued that inequalities have helped shape the face of the world. Zahra’s argument has depended on the fact that people will most probably offer men the more physical jobs instead of women, regardless of her qualifications. He also argued that being an Afghan taught him to accept that people will not always be treated equally and that inequalities will serve the better part of the life people currently live.
Both students agreed that culture had been the most helpful aspect of trying to live a country intact. Hosnia argued that culture has been a uniting factor that has made people feels like they belong. She argued that her parents are constantly working and it only when they are doing cultural activities that they get to bond. Many cultures have been fed on and ultimately killed off. Therefore, the ones that remain serve a great impact in holding the people together. The issue of migration and immigration in the US has ultimately made the US lose a dominant culture; this is supported by the fact that technology has had the upper hand in judging how people act, for instant people constantly checking their emails during dinners and failing to observe traditional cultural norms (Foer, 2016). Therefore, the little people who still have a culture get together and bond.
These students have different views on the most crucial thing that a country requires to grow or develop; Zahra argues that a country needs finances and good leadership. Zahra argues that finances can transform and third world country to a developed nation. However, he argued that this also depends on the brains behind these developments arguing that there is a need for the person in power to be open-minded and to have a strategy in which to use to attain this.
Hosnia on the other hand argued that peace and harmony were the key elements to the development and growth of a country. Hosnia empathized with Middle East nations, which are constantly at war and cited these as the main causes that limit developments. She argued that Afghanistan would be better if it were affected by the war and the insecurity that describes the country. Hosnia argued that people have to know how to co-exist with each other to develop as a nation.
Both students believe that their reasons for having these opinions are that they still get the feeling every occasionally like they do not belong. They get the notion that they are a part of a community, which has not entirely accepted them, and thus they are fighting the battle to fit and at the same time trying to make this nation better. People have already been through so many hardships from the olden days where slavery was acceptable, racism was everywhere, and the minorities were treated differently (Gates & Oliver, 1999). However, the changes that have been enacted are trying to curb racism and the country trying to be inclusive of all people regardless of race, ethnicity, originality, gender or any other aspect.
Hosnia argues that to make it as a minority, one has to have a strong mentality. She said that most people felt like they did not belong and thus acted differently and at times, this led them to pick their paths in fear of what others chose. However, it is important to be sane in insane places, to try to fit in regardless of the situation (Branaman, 2001). Zahra also agreed that the sense of mind was essential in trying to make through a place where people have different opinions on almost everything.
As an ethnographer, there was surprisingly much more information I got from the students than I expected. In the discussion about success, I found out that the social class is a huge factor that influences one’s personal values and worldviews. Zahra lives in a family in lower social class. As a result, she was not able to discover the level of satisfaction differences between different social levels. In the topic of peace, I got the idea that parents’ experiments can also add to one’s opinion toward the world. Finally, yet importantly, the culture background plays a huge role in building up one’s personal values since as a Chinese, I know that their point of view varies a lot from what most Chinese think.
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