The thirteen values deemed American by Kohls are surprisingly resonant when thinking about how Americans live and think and when compared to other countries’ most apparent distinctions. Things such as Russia’s LGBT issues or communist states come to mind; values like equality, individualism, and self-help are neglected to some degree. American exceptionalism seemed to just be a superficial theory, but Kohls gives a lot of evidence that because Americans think by these unique principles and believe them to be wholly true, the U.S. as a whole is generally a distinct country from most others.
Even between the two of us, the differences between cultural perspectives are quite discernible. Below are posts from each of us describing personal experiences and opinions:
Brenden: I, who has grown up in the U.S., have had experiences working with international students where they did not do any work, as if the completed project would be (and was) handed to them. This was possibly my fault as well, though, due to the values I live by: I believed in the work that I was doing myself because it made me feel in control, and I neglected to make any formal structure within the group.
Sisi: Chinese people believe in fate. While we believe to a certain extent that one can have control in changing his or her life, people also have clear expectations about their opportunities based on the family they were born into: rich or poor. Those born in a higher-class family have much more access to ideal education, jobs, and love, and no matter how hard someone from a poorer family works, they cannot achieve the same conditions. In regards to collaboration, Chinese students work harder and speak less, while American students speak more but work less.
Cultural values definitely come into play in collaboration and affect the dynamics of the group. Societal backgrounds and norms partly define us as individuals and therefore how we act within a collective. People differ on what they believe in, what they care about, and how they see themselves—ideas that may have to be agreed upon in order for a collaboration to succeed.
Sisi and I (Brenden) acknowledge our cultural differences, and it may be understood that this post is written from an American point of view. For those who are from a foreign country, what similarities or differences do you see between your country’s values and American values? For those who grew up in the U.S., do you necessarily agree with or live by these values? What happens when these values clash within a collaboration or some other social interaction?
Brenden & Sisi