Leadership Montgomery hosted Lunch with Leaders on Wednesday April 15. The luncheon was held at the Institute for Patient Safety and Medical Stimulation. Attendees enjoyed a nice Chinese meal followed by a presentation of the Confucius Institute and the differences between Western and Chinese culture.
Dr. Iris Xu, Director, Confucius Institute & Asian Studies, Troy University and Associate Professor, Chinese Language & Culture and Asian Studies at Troy University, talked more about the Confucius Institute and how it teaches Chinese language and culture and prepares students to conduct business with their Eastern counterparts. There are a total of 3 of these institutes in Alabama. The Confucius Institute at Troy has been operating for 8 years now. The other 2 are at Alabama A&M University and Auburn University Montgomery. Now, there are over 100 Confucius Institutes in the United States. In addition, there are similar programs on the high school level in Montgomery, Troy, and Birmingham.
Dr. Rui Feng, who is an ESL professor at Troy University, talked about the cultural differences between the Chinese and the West. There are differences in dining, lifestyle, and self-expression. The Chinese talk loud and enjoy bright lights while dining. They have a lifestyle based on interdependence, meaning that they depend on and help each other to be successful. The Chinese also express their anger differently. The Chinese like to avoid confrontation. They know how to hide their anger and keep a smile on their faces.
Things are much different in the Western world. When it comes to dining, westerners prefer a quieter, dim lit atmosphere. Westerners have a more independent lifestyle where they rely more on sole efforts and abilities to achieve success. When it comes to expressing feelings and anger, Westerners are more direct and straightforward.
“One cannot use their culture to judge another’s” Said Dr. Rui Feng. “One must understand self and the other”. Dr. Feng ended his presentation by sharing tips on what to buy and what not to buy as gifts for our friends in the Eastern world.