Written By Aris Abdul Rahman
Culture consists of symbol, norms, language and values. Culture is what we wear, the way we speak, the type of food we eat, our belief in right or wrong and there are actually many more ways to describe culture. “Assalamualikun”, “Hello”, “Hai”, “Sayonara” is culture. Culture can be term in so many ways. The clothes we used to attend certain occasion is also culture.
According to Cristina De Rossi, an anthropologist at Barnet and Southgate College in London, the word “culture” comes from Latin “colere,” which means to tend to the earth and grow, or cultivation and nurture.
I would like to point out on one of my favourite part in culture which is the way people dress to attend weddings or funerals. In Malaysia, people attend wedding wearing their traditional costume such as ‘baju melayu’ for the Malays and ‘saree’ for the Indians. Meanwhile in Western country, people who attends wedding normally wears a suit.
Culture differences in leadership styles is also an interesting topic to be discussed. Countries such as Africa, Argentina, and India may have different kind of leadership style. These different style of leadership and understanding often create unexpected misunderstandings. In Japanese they will always respect the elderly person in order for any promotion. Most Japanese stays in one company for their whole life. A junior who comes in with a degree or master qualification needs to starts from the beginning in order to get promoted. Meanwhile in America culture, a qualified and outstanding person, who has passed the interview may be promoted to a higher raking position instead of looking into seniority. Employee at the Japanese hierarchy structure, will always give the senior to speak in meeting or discussion, meanwhile in American culture, they encourage subordinates to speak in meeting and would be able to consider decision making. When dealing with leadership from Arabic countries, answers such as ‘InsyaAllah’ is uncertain that it’s a YES! because in their culture, they tend to pay high respect to surrounding people and ‘InsyaAllah’ is always used in daily conversation.
Culture can be passed down through generation as we absorbed it from childhood days. It is handed down to us from older generation. The way a person think, feels and taste is also culture. We could also say, it’s the “thinking” and “feeling” part of culture: habits, assumptions, attitudes, desires, values and taste. American’s are big eaters thus ‘Ramli Burger’ won’t be enough to fulfil their appetite. This habits of big eaters are their culture. Meanwhile countries like South Korea that are always sophisticated and fast moving. Technology changes rapidly and citizen need to be aware of changes if not they will be outdated.
Learning a new culture in a nick of time is also challenging. An Orang Asli who used to stay Royal Belum and later settle down in Kuala Lumpur will have lots of difficulties in the beginning. Their customary evaluations and interpretations of Kuala Lumpur may not be same as the actual facts. Imagine them, in a new city trying to find way using any public transportation. They obviously will find difficulties as this new environment need adaptation. In Royal Belum, everything is all laid back and “follow the flow” concept. The only transport they have is their foot and boat. It wouldn’t take long for them to give up and feel frustrated. Thus adapting to new culture is a challenge. On the other hand, Venice, Italy have no cars in the city. You must walk on foot or cycle. This is their culture. If you’re lazy to walk then you’ll not learn about their culture history and will be missing a lot of great monuments.
Language is also culture. Malaysians speak Malays, Brazilian speak Portuguese, British speaks English and the list goes on. The culture is also influence by geographic region. If a tourist is in New Zealand speaking Spanish, there is a possibility that no one will understand. Hence, this Spanish tourist need to communicate using English as language is a dominance factor there. In Latin America, citizens enjoy the weekend differently compare to other places of the world. They spend too much time on drinking, partying and gathering after a long 5 days of work. Comparing to the Japanese, they are workaholic and never stop until the problem is solved.
In conclusion, culture is vast and different countries have different believe, norms and ritual. It’s an opportunity to learn new culture, meet new people, learn new technology and share with them your culture. Culture appears to have become key in our globalised world. Even the internet can’t conglomerate all this at one point. The ethnically diverse societies, the religion makes up a culture. Culture is a huge diversity!