Archive for the ‘Cultural Insights’ Category

Risk, innovation and U.S. culture

The United States is renowned for having a culture that rewards risk-taking and innovation. This is so ingrained into the culture that it’s easy to forget it’s actually a somewhat unique trait that is not always so easily replicated elsewhere. Here’s a reminder of that, buried in a NY Times profile of scientist-businessman John Kao. Before long he had written […]

Cultural insights from Egypt

I came across some interesting cultural insights in a recent article about Egypt in the International Herald Tribune. Although the story, on its surface, is about Egyptian perceptions of the U.S., just begin reading and you’ll discover some anecdotes that shed light into Egyptian and Arab culture. My favorite, at the start of the article, describes the local […]

Saudi gender relations: the female view

Yesterday, I had a post about gender relations in Saudi Arabia and the remarkable lengths that the society goes to in order to maintain separation between males and females of different families. I linked to a story in the International Herald Tribune in which young men were interviewed about their interactions with women. Today, we cover […]

Saudi gender relations: the male view

It’s easy in the West for us to express shock or dismay at the state of gender relations in some Arab countries (the veiling of women, the separation of the sexes, etc.), and particularly in a very conservative culture such as Saudi Arabia’s. However, it’s also easy for us to forget that many people in those […]

Romancing the food in Southeast Asia

Julie O’Hara recently went to Southeast Asia with her husband, where she fell in love with the foods of Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore. Along the way, she tried to learn as much as she could about the meals, although she knew she’d never be able to exactly recreate the dishes at home. She reported on […]

Shopping for rugs in Syria and Turkey

Andrew Lee Butters is a correspondent for Time magazine and he just wrote a fun little piece about the process of shopping for oriental rugs in the bazaars of the Middle East. In it, he provides tips for maintaining your sanity through the interminable and inevitable bargaining sessions with local merchants. My collection began with a small […]

Meshing Chinese and Western business cultures

There was an interesting column by Joe Nocera in the New York Times business section a few days ago. It started by looking at the relative lack of MBA-type skills among Chinese managers, but then diverted into an examination of Chinese and Western business cultures and the difficulties that companies have in meshing the two. An excerpt: […]

American baseball in Japan

Baseball season begins today, with a season-opening game in Tokyo between the Boston Red Sox and the Oakland Athletics. For American fans of these teams, the season begins at the ungodly hour of somewhere between 3 a.m. (West coast) and 6 a.m. (East coast). Still, it’s always an exciting day for fans, and the Japanese twist […]

Baseball, poetry and Nicaragua

I came across an interesting recent blog entry on Blog Critics Magazine in which Terence Clarke reminisced about a two-decade-old journey to Nicaragua and what he learned about that country and its love affair with baseball. “Baseball is a poem,” my companion said. I looked out the bus window….My companion’s sentiment was similar to one […]

Why does Finland excel at education?

That’s what the Wall Street Journal asked in a recent article, which noted that Finland placed first overall among 57 countries who recently tested their 15-year-olds in reading, math and science. This despite the fact that there is little standardized testing in Finland and very little in the way of assigned homework. High-school students here rarely get more […]

Working with the Japanese

It’s always a challenge for an individual to fit into the work culture of a new country. The NY Times recently profiled Heidi Manheimer and asked about her experiences as an American working for the Japanese cosmetics company Shiseido. Here is some of what she had to say: Shiseido is a large, old, conservative Japanese company […]

History of chocolate

If you like chocolate, you might want to check out this recent feature in Smithsonian Magazine called “A Brief History of Chocolate.” There are quite a few delectable facts about the history of this incredibly popular treat. A sample: When most of us hear the word chocolate, we picture a bar, a box of bonbons, or a […]

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