Foreign to Familiar

(Chapter 5: Inclusion vs. Privacy)

the book Foreign to Familiar

After reading chapter 5 (pp. 55-69) in Foreign to Familiar, respond to one or more of the following questions based on 1) what you’ve read and 2) your personal observation, experience, and opinions:

  1. Have you noticed U.S. American colleagues or friends making comments (such as those mentioned in the first paragraph on p. 56) that assume you (or they!) have the right to privacy and time alone? Do you think people in your home culture feel the need for privacy and time alone more or less often than your colleagues or friends from the U.S.? Do you feel you need for privacy and time alone more or less often?
  2. There are advantages (and disadvantages!) to prioritizing inclusion as well as advantages (and disadvantages!) to prioritizing privacy. It’s easy for us to see the advantages of whichever one we like best (but not its disadvantages) and the disadvantages of whichever one we don’t like (but not its advantages). Therefore, try to “think out of the box.” Based on our textbook and your own observations/thoughts, what are the advantages of the perspective you disprefer and what are the disadvantages of the perspective you prefer?

Note from Monica: I don’t think I have ever met a student from anywhere who would open unknown roommates’ luggage and try on their clothes, so I think the Chinese college student story shared by the author of Foreign to Familiar is extreme. However, minus that story, I think the author’s comments on inclusion- vs. privacy-oriented cultures are very accurate. For example, if I’m remembering correctly, my elementary school teachers mostly didn’t allow us students to share the lunches our parents had packed for us with our classmates. I can also remember a time in my childhood when my mom caught me crying in our front yard because I was so lonely and wanted a best friend. I had a sister and two brothers and classmates, but we didn’t do much together (particularly after becoming teenagers). In contrast, I have basically never felt lonely in the last 10 years when my friendship network changed so that it primarily included friends from hot-climate cultures.


Foreign to Familiar — Chapters 5 and 6 — pp. 55-78 (Estimated time required: 2.5 hours) — No Comments

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