MBA student Minghui Yu was awarded awarded Social Innovation seed funding from RADIUS and Embark for his project, termed the Multicultural Understanding Initiative. Here he explains who he has initiated this project, and offers an example of learning to understanding intercultural difference.
I am very pleased to be selected for this grant. Multicultural understanding, or intercultural understanding, is important in our society, particularly in Lower Mainland, given the large percentage of immigrant population.
The purpose of this initiative is to help citizens develop cultural intelligence. Cultural Intelligence (CQ) is the ability to function effectively and efficiently in diverse cultures. As a result of rapid globalization, more and more people have some types of interaction with people from different cultures: neighbours, fellow colleagues, business partners, etc. Consequently, Cultural Intelligence (CQ) is becoming more and more important just like Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Emotional Intelligence (EQ).
Multicultural understanding goes through three stages: knowledge, mindfulness, and skills. Knowledge is the cornerstone of multicultural understanding. Mindfulness is developed after possessing sufficient knowledge and requires in depth understanding of other cultures.
An example: Perceptions of the dog in different cultures
An event in a southern China city is creating a big controversy. The Annual Dog Meat Festival in Yulin receives massive protest online: millions of people have signed an online petition to call upon Yulin government to stop the festival. In China, thousands of animal welfare activists and pet lovers rallied in Yulin to protest this event, too.
I considered this event a good opportunity to promote multicultural understanding because it involves two key questions in multicultural understand:
1) Perceptions of the same thing (here in this example, dog) in different main cultures
2) Development of sub-cultures in one culture group
A few weeks ago, I invited a few students for a panel discussion on perceptions of dog in different cultures. It was an interesting discussion. Local students who grew up in typical Western culture, who considered dogs are mankind’s best friends, were amazed to know that in Chinese culture, dogs are usually labelled as snobbish, dirty, cruel, and full of betrayal. In the meantime, a debate among several Chinese students also showed the great different perceptions within the same culture.
Panel discussion participants suggested that I should make an easy to read comparison of dog’s perceptions in different cultures. I believe it is a good idea and will work on it.
Last but not least, an interesting videos about cultural difference: