cross cultures.docx - Running Head CROSS-CULTURAL...

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Running Head: CROSS-CULTURAL DIFFERENCES OF THAILAND AND THE WEST 1 Cross-Cultural Differences of Thailand and the West Name Institution Course Date
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CROSS-CULTURAL DIFFERENCES OF THAILAND AND THE WEST 2 Introduction Culture is one of the factors that cause fundamental differences among people. It is created by varying behaviors, practices and beliefs, and, all these factors combined influence the expectations that people have of each other. The term culture represents the knowledge and characteristics shared by a particular group of people. It is composed of factors such as arts, music, social habits, cuisine, religion and language, to mention but a few. As such, culture is also a form of identity. In the light of this, it means that people from one culture will act differently from people of another culture. That explains why the way of life in China is different from the Americans’. This study aims at highlighting the cultural differences between Thailand and the West. To achieve this, it will analyze the case study of Shane, an English teacher working in Thailand. Shane faces difficulties in his teaching career due to differing expectations and overly different ways of doing things in Thailand. At some point, he thinks that Thai’s education system wastes a lot of time, but he later comes to understand everything. His experiences in the foreign country will be analyzed and explained by referring to different literatures explaining cultural differences and how they might affect day-to-day life. Cultural Differences in Thinking Patterns Nisbett acknowledges that thinking patterns can be influenced by the nature of one’s culture. He writes that, “When people in one culture differ from those in another in their beliefs, it can’t be because they have different cognitive processes, but because they are exposed to different aspects of the world” (Nisbett, 2003). This assertion explains the entire confusion in Shane’s experience which resulted from him growing up in the West and going to work in Thailand. For instance, he implies that in the West, a teacher only executes the duties directly
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CROSS-CULTURAL DIFFERENCES OF THAILAND AND THE WEST 3 related to him. However, in Southeast Asia, they are expected to do everything that is required by their supervisors. As such, according to Nisbett, this is influenced by culture and not differing cognitive factors. The second aspect of difference in thinking patterns discussed by Nisbett is that Asians (representing Thailand), since time in memorial, use polite and collective strategies to get things done. On the other hand, the Westerners (represented by ancient Greek) applied more individualistic and competitive approaches (Nisbett, 2003). In short, the Asians are bound to be more polite than the Westerners. This statement is true and applies in Shane’s case. Shane preferred doing things on his own, such as not being willing to help the children with crossing the roads or accompanying them on tours (case study, n.d.). However, his Thai colleagues appreciated and embraced assisting as well as working collectively with others.
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