[ANOTHER VIEW]Cultural differences produce more creativityThe high school I attended was one of the most diverse schools in America. American culture is a melting pot of various cultures from around the world, and I believe openness to different ideas generates creativity, even amid cultural conflicts.
In terms of diversity, Korea is relatively limited. Koreans take pride in their homogeneity and long history, but their homeland exhibits little evidence of the global culture the Information Age represents.
The workers at my company are divided into three big groups: native English speakers, native Koreans and Koreans who have lived overseas.
Escaping from the strictly professional work environment, we had a company retreat.
A Korean-style barbecue party and karaoke singing contest were prepared. Those who did not want to join the singing contest could hang out near a bonfire.
There were some invisible conflicts among the different cultural groups. At the dinner table, most people tended to sit with their close acquaintances rather than going out of their way to communicate with others in their second language.
The main flow of the party was Korean. While Western-style barbecue parties involve more individual activities, Korean parties are more group-oriented.
Instead of the singing done at Korean parties, people at Western-style parties like to walk around with their beer in hand and freely interact with others. Dancing in the background happens, but getting up on stage is unheard of.
Even amid the obvious diversity, I could sense the efforts of individuals to create a friendly atmosphere.
Singing and dancing in front of everybody after drinking is embedded deep in Korean culture. And yet, at the singing contest, Koreans tried to sing English songs, so as not to leave non-Koreans out, and non-Koreans tried to sing and dance along to Korean songs.
Also, a handful of individuals walked around to the different tables to break the ice. I could tell that foreigners tried to pick up some Korean words while eating and Koreans tried to talk in their second language when they got the chance.
One can easily say that some people went overboard, while having a lot of fun, both on the stage and off.
Some didn't have as much fun as others due to cultural differences. However, I believe the conflict from cultural differences is a positive force that generates more creative ideas.
Through the process of overcoming diversity, a culture becomes more mature. We live in a world of globalization, and the efforts to get along that individuals made at that one small party reflect positively on the future.
by Stella Kim