International Perspectives by J.C. Scull



China We — America I

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A look at collectivist China through the eyes of Individualistic America

Art mimics life. Or is it the other way around. One thing is for sure; when it comes to American individualism nothing describes it better than Hollywood.

Take the 1971 movie Big Jake, with John Wayne playing the title role. When his grandson gets kidnapped by John Fain’s gang, Big Jake goes into action. He packs his six-shooter and his trusty 30–30 Winchester, gets on his horse and heads out to rescue the boy. Needless to say he kills a lot of people and brings the boy back.

And what about Liam Neeson in Taken. Neeson plays ex-CIA operative Bryan Mills who sets out to rescue his kidnapped daughter from human traffickers, all by his lonesome. Do we even need to go into details? Neeson’s character Bryan Mills wipes everybody out and brings his daughter back safe and sound. Needless to say those savvy Hollywood types know what Americans like and filmed Taken 2. There is even talk of a Taken 3.

America loved the real Sargent York, who during WWI, with his army issued Springfield .30–06 carbine in hand, took hundreds of German soldiers as prisoners all by himself. But America loved the movie too, played by Garry Cooper in 1941. In real life, Sargent York exemplified American ingenuity, valor, and modesty. A true American hero portrayed in the movie that followed in a very compelling and realistic way.

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How Different Cultures View Time

In Germany you can set your watch by the arrival and departure of trains. A business associate in Frankfurt once told me that if she has an appointment at 9:00 AM, she makes sure to arrive at 8:57 AM. The reason is that it takes one minute for her client to beckon her to come into his office, one minute to walk to the office, and one minute to enter, sit down and settle into the chair. This would ensure that the meeting can start promptly at 9:00 AM as scheduled. Her logic was obsessively precise.

If you are ever in Brazil and you are invited to a party at 8:00 PM, you can show up punctually at that time if you want to see your hosts in their bathrobes and are willing to help in the setup of the get-together. Get ready to help inflate balloons, and make sure there are plenty of beer in the cooler since the invited guests will not be arriving until at least 8:45 PM or later.

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I know, I know. The picture above is full of generalities, biases and it is an unfair comparison between Latin American men and American men. But I just could not help myself!!

Latin American Machismo is not the same as American Male Chauvinism although they have some similarities.

In Spanish and Portuguese, the meaning of the word macho was associated with the ideal societal role men were expected to play in society. These included to some degrees the quixotic notion of “caballerismo” or chivalry and knighthood. During the 1960s and 70s, Latin American feminists began to refer to the word machismo as a way to describe male aggression and violence. The term was also meant as a criticism of what feminists and scholars saw as Latin American male patriarchy.


Don’t Quit Your Daydream

Bryan is thinking about how he is going to perform in his 6th U.S. Open. This prestigious tennis competition, and one of the four Grand Slam tournaments in the world, brings in all of the top ranked tennis players in the entire planet. Only the best of the best are able to compete on the acrylic hard courts at the iconic USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York City. In recent years making it into the men’s quarter finals or better at this world class facility has been a superhuman feat left to the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and a handful of other top notch gladiators that compete worldwide at a level of tennis that only the mere mortal can dream of.

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CULTURELet’s suppose for a minute that you are offered a job in another country and you decide to accept it. If you are like most people you are going to start making preparations for your big adventure right away. You are going to think about arranging your finances so that you can transfer money home if you need to, or perhaps the other way, have access to your funds here in the U.S.A. in case of an emergency.

You are going to want to do some research on your new home country regarding proper attire, food, lodging, geography, political system, health care, and the people.

Experts say you should plan on registering with the U.S. embassy upon arrival. In fact before going you can and should register with the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program or STEP. The State Department uses STEP to communicate to those registered in it important information in case of an emergency.

Your health is very important so prior to making the move you should visit your doctor not only to get your vaccinations in line but also for getting a good physical examination.



Are you a people watcher (I think more accurately — a people observer)? Are you the type that goes to a museum in the U.S. or abroad, and views the works of art as much as you watch people viewing the works of art? Do you love to sit in an outdoor café looking at the people walking back and forth on the sidewalk? Do you also like to peek over the top of your coffee cup in order to observe the people sitting around you?

If you are fascinated by how people eat, how they sit, how they interact with one another, then you are a people observer.

If you speak the local language, don’t you love to eaves drop even a little bit? If you are a true people observer you love to go beyond just merely watching and try to engage locals in conversation. You want to peer into their hearts and mind and find out what makes them tick.


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