Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day 5

Spring is the most emotional season of the year since it's when the new school year starts and I need to deal with some changes in my classes. Welcoming new faces is always exciting but saying good-bye to old faces is just painful. It has been nearly two decades since I started this profession, however, I have never got used to saying good-bye to anyone. Having my daughter’s birthday as well as memorial days for my grandparents also adds much stronger sentiments to the season. This gloomy emotion has been an excuse for my lack of motivation for the IELTS challenge lately.

This morning, after most of my best friends had gone back to their jobs, I wandered around the online world with no motivation to do any work. Luckily, I got the chance to have a nice chat with one of my friends, whom I highly respect, on one of my favorite social utilities, Facebook. I may have a dull mind but I am blessed with a sharp instinct and it told me to go ahead and grab this opportunity. After exchanging the routine morning greetings, I asked how his study of Japanese is going. He said he’s been learning 20 new Chinese characters a day. This is quite a high goal to achieve for a busy and fancy university English teacher like him. So, I asked him what his secret for motivating himself is. His advice was: “Stop trying but just do it.”

So, here I am following these words of wisdom with reasonable motivation.

Today’s writing task is:
As mass communication and transport continue to grow, societies are becoming more and more alike, leading to a phenomenon known as globalization. Some people fear that globalization will inevitably lead to the total loss of cultural identity.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

The total loss of our cultural identity has been one of the major concerns in my country. Since we have long been a mono-cultural society, paying more honor to our cultural traits than is due, this is understandable. However, true understanding of one's cultural identity cannot be reached without acknowledging the cultural identity of others.

Concrete concepts, such as “solid” and “liquid”, are easy to understand because they are both visible and tangible. How about abstract and subjective concepts such as “good”? Don’t we perceive the concept only in comparison with “bad”? How about “small”? How could we perceive the concept without comparing it to something “big”? Consciously or unconsciously, we grasp ideas of what things are in relative terms. Even the most subjective and abstract concepts, such as love, only become obvious when you lose them. The absence of love or the presence of its opposite emotion, hate, tells you what love is. Without having something else to compare things to, we don’t fully understand anything.

Cultural identity is one of the most abstract concepts. In order to capture such a concept, we must have something to compare it with. For example, group-mindedness is one of the main features of our cultural identity in Japan. We value team work more than individual achievements. Consequently, decision-making takes more time than is necessary. This collective inefficiency is something that I have had to deal with repeatedly in my country. However, it was only after having stayed in the U.S.A. for over a year and having learned its respect for individuality, that I became aware of this cultural characteristic.

Globalization might bring confusion to this mono-cultural country as the result of a lack of understanding for different values. At the same time, it can also introduce a whole range of new values. Acknowledging the cultural identities of others will not only expand our views but also enable us to understand our own culture better in comparison. Thanks to such self-cultural-recognition, solid cultural identity can be recognized.

Therefore, by welcoming globalization rather than rejecting it, we will be able to find opportunities to redefine our own cultural identities.


  1. M.A. Mama,
    I hope you keep this blog going as it makes for interesting reading.
    Today's writing task is an interesting one. I think as you read more about the topic you will find yourself coming back to this post and learning new things about yourself, which is always cool. For example, you said Japan is a monocultural society. Is it? Also, when we write about how a group is, the role of stereo-types come into play. "We are ..." How accurate are your assumptions about Japan (as a collective), when compared to the individuals that you know? I think you are really going to enjoy your MA. Just keep posting, so others can enjoy it, too.
    : - )

  2. Wow. Thanks, Colin. Your comment meant a lot to me since you are the inspiration of this writing :-)

    I think I need to find the reasonable middle ground between generalizing and personalizing when I talk about social issues.

    Your suggestions are much appreciated.