From Chinese Public School to University to Workforce

Teacher Student Time

It’s common for us to praise countries like China, Japan, and Korea on their teaching methods. Of course, their math scores frequently deliver a spanking to American children and the future of American students gets even gloomier from there. The results are in the numbers and the proof is ample, but this educational success doesn’t come without a cost. As we attempt to compete academicaly, and globably, this cost has been (or is still being) experienced by American students with mixed responses from their administrators. At least the few administrator I’ve talked to were not full of praise about their new exam-based system. Continue reading From Chinese Public School to University to Workforce

Why Care about Persians and Arabs?

The Persian Empire, 500 B.C.

As a Caucasian, average American student living the first 22 years of my life in the United States, it would be unusual for me to know a great deal about Persians, Arabs, or any other ethnicity that thrives outside our borders. No doubt the school board never planned to keep me sheltered from the Middle East, but a shortage of cultural understanding may have led to some of our greatest wrong-turns as the global police. An “over there” mentality has been born of a lack of exposure to their ways, acceptance of hyperbole in the mass media;  and the apathetic response of an educated public.

That is why I chose to learn more about these differences by sitting down for an hour with my new colleague, Shirin; an Iranian-American who is my mother’s age. Her two children are about my age; one teaches dance in Chicago while the other works making documentaries in LA. While speaking to her I felt as though I was speaking with my dear Aunt Gloria. There is a warmth about her personality and comfort in the way she speaks. She emits a glow which makes her a delight to work with in school.

I asked her first. “I know Persians are not the same as Arabs, but what can you tell me about the differences?” It was obvious that she had explained this many times before. Her jokes about misspellings of Persian writing were perfectly rehearsed! She made a point to mention that “60% of university students in Iran are women.” Women’s rights seem to be more universal, although I still wouldn’t consider them to be as liberal as Western countries. Also, as the center of Persian history and modern culture, Iran maintains the greatest number of Persian speakers and writers. I had no idea before today that Persian was its own language separate from Arabic. Spoken Persian is also called Farsi, not Arabic. The writing looks similar, but it is as different as English and French.

Persia, a suitable name which I think has less stigma attached to it than greater “Iran”, has over 2500 years of recorded history, my colleague said. Second to the Chinese in length of history. They first lost ground to Arabic invaders around 600 AD and hundreds of battles since then have left the modern borders we adhere to today. Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Iran have the largest populations of Persian people to date.

So, again, why should we draw a line between these two groups of people? Because there is a line and calling them all “Arabs”, which is a common slip-up by North Americans, causes them strong resentment and even anger. They have different languages, different past, different food, and different religions. Although we disagree with their politics, it’s much more useful to learn from their ancient culture than to dig up reasons for fighting with them.

To MBA or not to MBA, there is no question.

My Chinese friend had a notice under her username recently on MSN. It said “Master isn’t equal to smart~Give me a break!” It’s obviously a complaint she’s making to her coworkers with whom she doesn’t get along. Did her point come across? It caused me to think about the very concept of an MBA…

Maybe I have mentioned a certain colleague while here in China, I’ll just call her AC. This woman is a native of Beijing and is proud of that. She is in her late 30s and still single, which isn’t so acceptable for women of her generation. She has TWO (2, 两个) MBAs from two of the most intellectually strong contries of the world: The United States and Germany.

I have been known to express some anger towards this woman; haven’t we all had someone we can only see eye-to-toe with? Without passing too much judgement, i’ll just say that the ears you see on her head don’t really have a use. The English you hear coming out of the mouth doesn’t sound like the level of an MBA, let alone a double-MBA. The decisions coming out of the brain seem to be lacking direction, purpose, colleague support, and a certain level of organization one would expect from at least a bachelor degree holder in the West.

I know that all comes out as a kind of “judgement.” I’m not saying that she is an evil person, although we’ve had some very personal and threatening confrontations. What I AM saying, is that there is “no proof” in that woman’s “MBA-pudding.” (If you’re picking up what i’m putting down…) Sadly, it seems that an MBA is just a piece of paper, which costs a lot of green paper.

When considering the loans I took out for my B.S. in B.A., it almost sickens me to think of how much in loans I am now responsible for. It’s ok because a Bachelor’s degree is expected of a common American. I can afford this in order to stay basically competative. However, I’m not faced with the pressure to get an MBA. Somehow we (in American society) feel so impressed by the MBA that we’ll borrow, on average, over $100,000 just to finance it!We expect to have an amazingly high paying job afterwards with this great, new, more expensive piece of paper. The REAL gain, i am told, is the networking/marketing you get from the experience… ah ha!

Well, I’m in China. I can use the language to communicate with quite wealthy, non-english speakers here. Starting a company here would cost much less and the economy is only going to grow and grow… Why not loan just $10,000 and start working on something really amazing out here? I find the life more interesting than back in the US, the food is more appetizing and healthy, and the women really treat my eyes well 🙂

It’s not everyone’s solution; it’s just my personal solution and that is really what’s important for us all. We each have a “best solution” which could quite possibly rest on the shoulders of an MBA education. Ask yourself, graduates of the recent class, should you run out and get an MBA? I know, at least for me right now, there is no question. What’s best for you?

Enhanced by Zemanta