A few days ago, I had an interesting conversation with a Taiwanese friend of mine. Somehow we got talking about history. I was waxing lyrical about the National Trust and about discovering history by visiting historic places, rather than from textbooks.
She then commented that East Asians are often a bit disappointed when they come to the UK, because all they find here is history (her words, not mine!). She was saying that people often prefer visiting the continent because there they get some history but also lots of modern technology.
It was one of those classic eye openers, of realising how different cultures see the same thing in totally opposite ways. The Chinese are obviously very proud of their own history. However, it seems that at this point, they are very intent on advancing economically, technologically, etc. So what they are looking for when they go abroad is anything that could inspire and challenge them in that quest. Looking to the future is what it’s all about.
For me (and this might just be a personal thing?), technology is useful, sometimes fun, but really no more than a tool. When I visit another country or place, I would not be the slightest bit interested in what technology they might have but rather in where they’ve come from and what I can see of the cultural backdrop in front of which modern life is played out.
Wow, lots of potential for miscommunication – and for helping each other see a different angle!