Erik Richardson

Teacher, Richardson Ideaworks, Inc.


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How do we create meaningful yet affordable changes to prepare our students for future collaboration with those in China, India, etc.?

In order to move past the traditional zero-sum mentality of "us versus them," we must prepare the next generation of leaders, teachers, scientists, etc., to have meaningful conversations and collaborations with their counterparts from Asia. That includes not just language skills, but some understanding of the cultures, histories, and social values as well. What kind of tangible, affordable changes can we implement—small or large—to start preparing our students to inherit that world? Affordability and ease of implementation are critical.

  • Apr 11 2011: Hi Richard. I think the best thing we can do with our children is to ensure they know who they are what ever cultural, religious, socio-economic background they come from. Only when are children are confident in who they are can they engage with others in meaningful, positive ways. Those changes don't have to cost heaps, the most important things may cost nothing at all. I remember listening to a group of high school students who were asked what would make the most difference to them, what would make them stay at school longer, try to do better etc. The things they said were like the teacher could make an effort to know me, the teacher could pronounce my name correctly, the teacher could be friendly. Those things don't take money, they do take a shift in attitude.
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      Apr 11 2011: Good comment Arapine,
      I agree that small shifts in our attitudes, can sometimes create meaningful change, and it is helpful for us to learn to genuinely connect with those from our own culture. I also agree that people who are confident in who they are, can engage with others in a more meaningful, positive, productive way:>)

      Mother Theresa said: I cannot do great things. I can only do small things with great love:>)
      Sometimes, we are searching for the big programs that might change our world, which are certainly beneficial. I believe that we can also take small steps that sometimes create very meaningful change, simply by shifting our attitude.
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    Mar 25 2011: You could start with viewing theTED talk by" Devdutt Pattanaik - East vs. west - the myths that mystify".

    Some valuable ideas have been presented in this thread...acceptance, listen, ask ourselves what we have in common, and be open-minded/open hearted. When I have traveled in different cultures, I always do it with the intention to learn:>)
    I have the curiosity of a child, which means I am not criticizing or rejecting that which is not familier to me. It is amazing what wonderful experiences we can have when we are open minded/open hearted:>)
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      Mar 29 2011: Loved the talk, by the way. Thanks for the suggestion!
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        Mar 31 2011: My pleasure:>) I viewed it quite some time ago, but as I recall, Devdutt talked about some very basic ideas, like understanding that we all come from different backgrounds. Even those of us living in the same cultures often have difficulty communicating, as Amily suggests. I agree with her that's it's mostly about how well we are willing to listen and understand. Sometimes, we need to let go of our preconcieved ideas and open the heart and mind to new information:>)
  • Jul 23 2011: A piece of advice, starting with adults. how can you prepare your kids when adults are blindfold.

    some adivece for the kids,

    1. trying to study china from a historical perspective, because what happend in the near 500 years is not very chinese, last 100 years especially, communism is not made in china, its just not part of chinese. And in the last three dynasties, two of them are not chinese but Mongolian. As chinese is a very history oriented culture, studying the history help you explaining a lot of things that are unfamilar to west.

    2. china is diverse. Some places are more capitalism than America where other places are far less.

    3. there are a lot of Confucius Institutes in American Universities, they teach many things about china like culture, art, not just confucius. they would be more than happy to help you and your students.

    4. tell them to stop watching FOX News, this would certainly help the most.
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    May 24 2011: Read anything by Deng Xiaoping. For example, any excerpt from the three volumes of his selected works. Take in "homestay" students. Holiday (with the kids) in China, India, etc. Watch Chinese, Japanese, Indian movies. Hang out at a "Confucius Centre" - I think there are about 500 of them throughout the world now. Come and teach in China (That's what I do.)
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    Apr 5 2011: I talkd to my 7th grade students today and shared the debate.

    How could we/you prepare for the future where America must share the scientific and military superpower stage with countries like India, China, etc.?
    Learning more foreign languages
    Studying the cultures more (we've barely learned anything about China, India, etc.)
    Learn what we could do to help. Hear from Chinese people what would help.
    Activities to strengthen our feelings to other cultures
    Hearing a more accurate view of the good and bad sides of life in China. Perhaps so we don't fall into generalizations either.
    Sharing what we "think" life must be like in China, and hearing what they "think" (or are told) life is like here is the beginning of understanding to fill in the gaps between us.
    Using our technology (as Amily mentions) to close the physical and perceptual distance between us
    Maybe sharing our ideas with them and they doing the same with us increases our chances of finding additional solutions.

    When asked specifically about the question of whether communicating with Chinese students - even if they got in trouble:
    If our attempts to help end up making the situation worse by getting the students in trouble, that would not seem worth it.
    Maybe we wait until the situation has opened up a little more.
    But . . . it would still help, because the lessons and ideas would begin to spread to others, and the better understanding would still make people want to speak with Westerners.
    We just need to go slow, and build up so they don't get into trouble.
    It would still be a good thing because we would have learned a more fair and accurate picture of what they are like.
    We can't let fear keep us from wanting to learn about each other. We can't pretend there aren't risks, but the chance of getting in trouble doesn't change what is the right thing to do.

    These are some of their thoughts. (Aren't they awesome? :-D) And, of course, this sentence was added under pressure to try and use up every characte
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      Apr 7 2011: yes,they are ! i am impressed to look at their thoughts!
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      Jun 16 2011: QUOTE: "Maybe we wait until the situation has opened up a little more."

      Don't wait (unless you really want to).

      It's pretty "open" already.

      Of course, it makes sense to be diplomatic ... and that goes both ways.

      In my experience, many people from the west, and, in particular, from the US, have a very distorted view of China. Not all, mind you, but a significant number seem to look at China through a lens that was crafted during the cold war; or they hold the point of view that the "Western Way" is the ONLY "right" way and anything that deviates from it is "self-evidently" flawed and bad - or at least, "inferior." (Some of the posts in this thread could be said to contain such a bias.)

      I've been in China for three years now (I'm from Canada) and to help with my visa application, I taught English for about eight months or so. Some of the other Western teachers who taught at the school acted with little to no tact. They simply assumed the Western Way (Xi Dao) was the best and their job was to tell the students as much (being hired to teach English notwithstanding!)

      As a "fellow Westerner," I was mildly embarrassed by some of their behaviour. It didn't seem to phase them that many of their students were professionals earning ten times what they, as English teachers, were making and that many of their students held advanced degrees from prominent Western Universities and were simply at our school to improve their English.

      I would recommend having your students open a dialogue with their Chinese counterparts, and I also recommend following Stephen Covey's well known advise: “If I were to summarize in one sentence the single most important principle I have learned in the field of interpersonal relations, it would be this: Seek first to understand, then to be understood. This principle is key to effective interpersonal communication.”

      In my opinion, the West has at least as much to learn from China as China has to learn from the West.
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    Mar 28 2011: Hi, Erik i am wondering would you like me to ask some youth here i know about to see if they are interested in that idea (i am in China)?
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      Mar 28 2011: That would be awesome. We could start with something very low-key, like e-mail exchanges. I work with kids from K5-8th grade. Please feel free to contact me by e-mail to follow up.
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        Mar 28 2011: i am concerning about the English level of 5-8th grade students here.its a little difficult for a 11-15 year teenager to express their ideas in about a little elder say high school students ?but i will try 5th-8th as well.
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    Mar 23 2011: that's a good thing to start with ,Debra ;-)Erik, i think it is a very important thing to know people personally, always listen to what they have to say. basically what we have in common is much more than our differences no matter east or west.
  • Jun 13 2011: Could I ask what is the definition of"Affordability and ease of implementation" ?

    It is vary from different position and views. For instance, Germany have positive attritube to future collaboration in China while USA and Britain are adopting negative one. This is one of different views in so-called Western countries.
    Most of us analyze China from one of massive phenomenons in mainstream.

    I am given to know is: Understanding China histories requires partition and labeling the periods, not only ordering by dynasty. It also refocusing the viewing tool from politics to economic activities. Allow me direct quote the word of Clausewitz : Military is the extension of politics, plus I am given to know is :Economics is the motivator of politics.

    Before Qin united China, the spiriting of mind opening is more rapidly than other period in Chinese Histories.
    Until recent reform in 1980's, mind and creatively are bounded and grounded by the geographic limit and the conservation of politicial support. Simply, there is no surrounding for brainstorming and mind-opening like TED unless it born and created in massive war such as Three Kingdom period.

    Backed to argument within western countries, Germany is more attritubed to collaboration and US focus on confrontation. Sometime, the scale of confrontation is upgrading and loss of control which caused by unknown political and economic activities. The cost of understanding and decision making is always unpredicated especially most of western countries symbolize China is threat rather than partner. In addition, mostly of American have biased views to Germany which based on the knowledge of World war II. They are not interest about the thinking way of other countries toward China. Frankly speaking, they only see what they want to see.

    In conclusion, understanding and solution selection about change is always based on how we label and give meaning to objects. I apologies if some of views and examples may offensive to someone.
  • Jun 12 2011: You cannot under emphasize the importance of language. It is the number one factor in getting a first hand understanding of all aspects and levels of other cultures. Then send over 400,000 students overseas per year (as China does) to study abroad and immerse themselves outside of the U.S.
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    May 31 2011: Hi Erik, I posted a suggestion here sometime ago to the effect that direct communication with students in other cultures would be great.

    There is another conversation here on TED started by a young Korean man who wants to know how to break through the language barrier. Does anyone here have a student in mind that might be able to befriend and help this young man out?

    Thanks in advance if you consider this! Here is the link. It expires in a day or two.
  • May 31 2011: Very easy. It is just like how i got through my life in the US in the last 4 yrs. Just learn the language and the culture,listen to their music, ask yourself what they like and what their pop culture is , know the popular people , watch their tv programs and movies, know what they like to eat and drink.

    Btw, while the american media may report tons of news about Chinese politics, economy and human right issues, the fact is most of the people are just living their lives and not very interested in that, which means you cant start off a conversation with people by those "big" topics.Just like it is easier to start off a conversation about football with an american than a conversation about US politics. Of course, if you need to make friends with professionals , deeper things are surely needed,LOL.
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    May 12 2011: I think it's important to prepare children, regardless of which culture they're coming from, on how to function well in another culture. I'm reminded of an article, following the whole "Tiger mom" controversy, about how some Asian-Americans find it very difficult to excel once they exit school, and it touched on subtle difference that we're not necessarily aware. For example, the article mentioned an executive explaining that if an employee doesn't bother to remark during meetings, it can come off as if that employee a.) doesn't know what's going on; b.) is bored and disengaged; or c.) thinks the entire process is beneath them. However, it is usually taught in Asian cultures that when the boss is speaking, you're quiet and listening. A potential misunderstanding could be avoided, if we just studied each other's culture!

    Erik, I realize that you mentioned understanding each other's culture as a part of education that cannot be overlooked. But I think we don't emphasize that enough in America. I talk to my friends who are international students, and many of them tell me how since middle school, or even elementary school, they have bee learning about American culture; they attend international schools, where classes are usually conducted in English. One of my friends even mentioned that he took a full year of American history, in addition to a fully year of a class on the history of El Salvador. Everyone else seems to be jumping on this bandwagon of trying to understand our culture. My concern, is that we're not doing nearly enough to teach students to understand other cultures until high school and college, and even then only through foreign language classes, and majors such as Hispanic and Asian studies.
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    Leo Bi

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    Apr 7 2011: Creating a co-operative movement in a world governed by competitive capitalist economics is the major challenge. I believe if a profound impact is to be made, the culture of communities is is the foundation on which all of this occurs. Analysis, problem solving, empathy, compassion, courage, curiosity, effective communication are all critical skills.

    Analysis and problem solving are skills that are accessible and very prevalent in our education systems and professional communities. However, empathy, compassion, courage, curiosity and communication are not so much. I believe the first major step would be to discover ways to nurture these values in people, there lies the big challenge. The principals in waldorf education looks promising. But, I think it extends beyond schooling and these values must be present in all aspects of ones community, family, friends etc.
  • Apr 5 2011: It is important to communicate, and we should communicate. In the Middle East, a people previously alien to us in many aspects seem to have been reborn, and now it appears that we are all alike. Our ability to communicate to people in the Middle East will flow from the commonalities of our desire to ensure freedom of speech and expression without repression or interference. Freedom and personal autonomy are precursors to any meaningful conversation.

    For us to communicate with the Chinese effectively and meaningfully, we must be able to first know that what we have said was heard. If I use Gmail, I cannot currently have a conversation with someone in China because the Chinese government interrupts that correspondence. Note the coincidence that the uprising in the Middle East was sparked by a Google Executive! Repression is a precursor for bad communication.

    In other words, it does little good to train and invest time to communicate with the Chinese when they cannot be reached. First, the Chinese people must stand up for their own rights and decide to communicate freely which will enable us to actually have a conversation which will automatically become meaningful, because it is authentic.

    Beyond China, we will become most able to collaborate with any other country by ensuring that we still have one. Therefore, to prepare our kids to have "meaningful" conversations, we should make sure to prepare our kids to vote intelligently, to read a financial statement, balance a checkbook, get a job, make a job, and how to audit the government.

    "I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain." John Adams
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      Apr 5 2011: i would like to clarify something you mentioned above
      1 what you mean "cant be reached"? i am a Chinese and i use gmail,ted,skype,msn ect to communicate with people in foreign contries.
      2 First, the Chinese people must stand up for their own rights and decide to communicate freely which will enable us to actually have a conversation which will automatically become meaningful, because it is authentic.---yes , i understand the importance in doing so,while there's still something we cant control ,we look at the things we can do to make a change which is more realistic.
      3 China captures and imprisons journalists, writers, artists, and musicians-- some of which are internationally valued and even decorated... as in Nobel Peace Prizes and such. ----that's what happened,and i think that is very just concerns me when you say that.these things are done by a group of people not all chinese would agree thats a humane way to solve problems. and can you imagine when some people think we often become victim of propoganda and there are also chances people's thinking can be shaped by these things in a way that would stereotype ften in life that's where distrust arises.(and i really think blaming is a waste of time, think about solutions if you really concern about people.i dont mean to offend you:)
      4 and i believe to be openminded is a personal choice .it dosnt dependes on whether the other is openminded or not,which i think is the hardest take risk and learn form it even when there's no guarantee is what i learnt here from Ted talks.

      p.s i dont have to know everything to prepare kids to have meaningful conversation ,even life.
      • Apr 10 2011: 1a- You said you are Chinese, but you did not say that you live in China?
        2b- Your previous comment said that you are able to communicate freely, and then your second comment implies that you are unable to communicate freely. Then you talk about "realistic" as if your have no choice, but you do... assuming that your living and participating in the Chinese society.
        3b- Unfortunately, as a society we are blamed as a whole based on the decisions and legal systems that we continue to support. As an American, we have been judged for our actions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, etc.. True, not all Americans supported the decision, but we live in a republican democracy which still affords the decisions to the majority... so the minority had their chance to make their views known, and the minority did not effect change because they failed to become the majority. Still, in a democracy there is a conversation... in China, there is repression. This is made obvious by the facts. Noble Peace prize winners, artists, musicians, journalists, and other free thinking people are incarcerated for standing out. In America, to stand out is to stand up and to change the course of thinking; to transform the minority into the majority. Without freedom of speech and expression, there is no authentic sociological conversation/transformation. In America, it is your duty to know how to blame well; to hold each other responsible for OUR ACTIONS.
        4a- Being open minded is a personal choice, but when your not allowed to be open minded, then you have no choice. History shows us that artists, journalists, musicians, etc., are open minded meaning that they think on a new plane that reshapes what was into what will be. Without that kind of open mindedness, society fails to see much.

        p.s. I did not imply that you needed to know everything. My kids will learn to stand up for their beliefs, even in the face of repression. That is meaningful because freedom of speech begot meaningful and authentic talks.
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          Apr 11 2011: 1 Yes. i am a Chinese and i live in China.

          2 I said i can be reached here thru E mail and different ways.i got a little confused about what you mean by coummunicating freely. i was talking about talking to people freely just like what you and i are doing here.or do you mean sp==ch fr===dom?(yes ,that's a issue here,it depends on what you want to talk about.but meaningful conversations dosent have to be topics about the authorities .)

          i said "realistic" becuz individual's determinations to transform the whole society in such a authority structure is in vain,so we do what we can do to make a change.

          3 Yes .its very unfortunate if that's how things work in America or anywhere in this world no matter at the national or individual levels. For me ,Blaming is all about finding out who's right and who is wrong.and no more than that. but guess what , sometimes things are not about right or wrong at is what it is and we just need to sort out a solution.and blaming often get people defensive which makes things harder than it need to be.and thats what happens among i said blaming is not helpful. but if you thinks it work well for you ,that's okay dont have to agree with me on this;)

          4 well, being openminded is allowed by individuals themslves but no one else.and it is true that without that kind of open mindedness ,society fails to see much.

          i am sorry if i misunderstood you. and i just want to let you know i appreciate your post cuz what you said shows you are aware of and care about how justice and democracy are done elsewhere .and no one on this planet would choose dictatorship over freedom, injustice over justice. i guess that's the common ground we share? Hey ,you know what why not let's sit down and have a cup of coffee and you can tell me what you think and i could tell you what is like to live China if you want?
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      Apr 5 2011: Thanks for sharing your thoughts, S.B. Honestly.

      In regard to your point about preparing out children for the future:
      If we don't learn to understand and appreciate cultures like China, India, Korea, and a host of others, our children will not be able vote intelligently nor get a job, unless you count the manual labor jobs that will be outsourced to the US by countries that ARE capable of working in collaboration (and will be doing so) to push back the frontiers of medicine, science, etc.

      In regard to your point about the Chinese people "standing up for themselves":
      History shows us over and over again that people are not able to stand up for themselves and win without extensive support from people and governments in other countries. America was neither the first nor the last of those examples. What is more, every connection that is made between people in China and people in the west is one more channel of information that makes it harder for people to be oppressed by the stanglehold of information and spin, and it is one more bright, intelligent soul that knows first hand some counterexamples to the mythos of fear and us-versus-them thinking that is so commonly used to manipulate the masses throughout the world.

      Heaven help us if we resign ourselves to a world where we expect governments to change or see the path to a brighter future before the people under it do. :-D
      • Apr 10 2011: I did not imply nor did I state that we should not learn about foreign culture. I believe that we should be well acquainted with our neighbors.

        Our children will be able to vote intelligently and get a job as long as we have an economy that is capable of supporting such things. We are paying the price for outsourcing to countries that allow unfair labor, unrestricted work days, and child labor. The power is not in the hands of the worker, but in the consumer. At this point, it is more important to learn the fungible nature of money, and what it means to invest wisely in your local economy. We as Americans continue to make the mistake of purchasing goods from repressive governments like China which allow child labor, unrestricted work days, and wages that border on slavery. China is urging it's way forward in the world economy by selling us lower quality goods made by slaves.

        It is our mistake to do business with a bad business. If we want our kids to have a future, we must stop powering the machine by cutting off it's fuel supply; our spending. We need to create jobs here by swallowing our pride and living within our means long enough to fire up our own manufacturing capabilities. We make the finest products in the world in the US, bar non. Americans just need to save their money, and buy quality instead of their convenience.

        We were given a chance by the King of France, not the free country that we know now as France. The King of France as you know was later overthrown during a revolution that mimicked a new form of government that we here in the United States created first through making a new standard; a democracy born first through the words of Thomas Jefferson who was brave enough to imagine a world were individuals were their own free entity. Imagination won the American Revolution by way of standard made explicitly clear in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. Change travels through 3 doors: standards, beliefs, and strategies. One foot before the other
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      Jun 13 2011: Hi S.B. Davis,

      I live in China and have no problem at all communicating with Chinese people ... about anything.

      Your views, I think may not be completely accurate ... since 1978, the Chinese government has been instrumental in orchestrating the world's largest emergence from poverty in history. While they were doing this "The West" (the USA, really) was overseeing the single largest financial meltdown of all time.

      American products are not considered the best "bar none" - Japanese, German, and to a lesser extent Chinese products are (where do you think Apple computers are made?)

      China is in the middle of a HUGE shift ... approximately half the population live in cities; the other half in rural areas. The shift to urban life will continue and we're not talking a piddling 150,000,000 people; we're talking 600,000,000. Try to manage that without a few hiccups along the way.

      The kids in the cities are walking around with iPhones, iPads, wearing Levis and drinking Starbucks coffee.

      It's actually a pretty cool place ... room for improvement? You bet.

      Will it ever be a "Western-style" democracy? Probably never.

      Are the people here satisfied with their government? Yes: About 90% of the population support their government and its policies.

      Can you name another country where that is true?

      I can't.

      And for the record, the American model of government is about 300 years old; the Chinese model is about 2600 years old.
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    Apr 3 2011: There is a great quote I read somewhere about how if you want people to build a ship, don't divide them into tasks and start trying to build a ship, first you must get them inspired about going to sea. With that in mind, how do we inspire parents/teachers/students to embrace a larger worldview and motivate them to learn about other cultural perspectives?
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      Apr 4 2011: thats a very good question when we set out to do something and before that we always ask why we do it.and i am not sure about a direct answer to this question,so i ask more questions instead.
      1) is this idea a value to be imparted or it is something that has caused difficulties in people's lives ? if it is something that we believe is good while others dont see the benefints in doing it.then it becomes very hard.(a lot of people dont like changes)we might need to use a lot examples .what benefits peolpein doing so and what are the disadvantages if we dont do it?
      2)in what areas that people need to learn these cultural perspectives in order to collaborate effectively .if its just a general sense of knowing the importance of understanding other could become board for people to know where to start with first.these ones that are most related with their lives can be priorities.
      3)understand our own culture ,what leads people to where theyare now today?whats the current view of the parents/teachers/students ?
      4)how far we encourage them to go to the sea,meaning to what extent we embrace and what dose it look like when we do it?
      5)what are some of these areas that two cultures clashes in?and what's our attitude to that?how to creat a win-win solution.if they are taught with needed skills and knowlege ,they may feel more confident in dealing with it.thats what i come up with,brainstorm.we can build it up further more.
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        Apr 5 2011: Good questions, Amily.

        At the heart of it, I think, is the goal of preparing students from every country to be able to form meaningful connections and diverse channels of communication with each of the others. That prevents:

        a) bottlenecks of information that are easily filtered or changed by people/governments who stand to profit by fueling conflict, fear, and competition

        b) students with limited, one-sided ways of thinking about the world and the complex, diverse people, cultures, and countries with which they must share it

        c) ignorance about our own distinct cultures, because, to a significant extent, we do not ever really understand our own culture (any of us) until we learn about others

        d) stunting the growth of humanity in general. We must continually grow and develop a broader capacity for creativity, expression, and innovation by sharing and appreciating the art and beauty of other cultures

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          Apr 7 2011: that works for all of us. would like to know if someone else got any more ideas.
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      Apr 4 2011: I find the best way to motivate and inspire others is through my own actions. I would not deny myself the opportunities to interact with people from different cultures. The more I talk about it and exhibit joy and excitement, the more curious others are, and that sometimes opens the door of motivation/inspiration. Many of the exchange programs in place at this time start opening doors, and people begin to get interested.

      When my daughter was a teenager, she wanted to have an exchange student stay with us, so we had a teenager from Spain as our guest. After he went back, his brother came, then my daughter went to stay with their family in Spain, then our son went...then their daughter came, and by that time, the oldest kids were grown up, so I hooked the younger one up with a friend who had two daughters her age. They eventually visited the family in Spain...on and on. It was beautiful. The first boy came with a program, and after that, the families created our own program! 25 years later, everyone is still connected, all of these kids travel quite a bit, and I LOVE IT:>) Sometimes, making connections is more simple than we think. The big thing is to be open to possibilities:>)
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    Mar 31 2011: being a translator,another important thing i noticed is that it is very easy for people to attribute misunderstanding to cultural differences(or translation:) but actually what really happens is all about how well people communicate and listen to(or understand) each other. i once read a study says couples are no better at reading each other's mind than total strangers.
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    Mar 28 2011: Interactions and communications bridge tge gaps that have been created by us, but noone else :)
    Spread the word and action of love by considering other fellows as your own and eliminating the discriminations among others and ourselves.
  • Mar 26 2011: NYU now has a campus in Shanghai and I am aware of other universities that are contemplating a similar move.
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    Mar 25 2011: I agree with the ideas I'm hearing so far. Unfortunately, I don't know anyone teaching in China at the moment, so I'm going to have trouble launching that idea.
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      Mar 26 2011: I am aware of a teacher exchange program with China. One of the teachers from China is living with my brother. Perhaps if you contact me by e-mail, we can make a connection with China? I would be surprised if someone from China doesn't present themselves here on TED!

      Amily shaw, comment below. is in China and interested in education:>)
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    Mar 24 2011: I think it is important to accept each other. There are natural barriers of the human mind when it comes to meeting a different culture or anything that is new or outside of one's comfort zone. Education and open-mindedness can aid in creating this acceptance. Once this is accomplished then the more tangible changes (such as Debra's suggestion) can be fully optimized :)
    • Apr 5 2011: It is hard to be open minded when one is unable to say what is on one's mind. Awkward or not, nobody is going to speak freely when such words merit a prison sentence.

      China captures and imprisons journalists, writers, artists, and musicians-- some of which are internationally valued and even decorated... as in Nobel Peace Prizes and such. In terms of acceptance, it is really hard for anybody from any country to value that kind of "open-mindedness."
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        Jun 11 2011: As you have been S.B. so i forgive your ignorance.
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    Mar 20 2011: Wouldn't it be great if people who went to China to teach English could link up with classrooms in North America so that the kids could email and get a sense of a real person being half way around the world and not just some stereotype?
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      Mar 21 2011: Yes, or Skype!
    • Apr 5 2011: Would you still like that idea if afterwards those kids were detained/arrested for "spying".

      They are still arresting journalists. They imprison monks. They incarcerate artists. They roll over protesters in the street with tanks.
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        Jun 13 2011: I obviously would recoil at such an outcome but I have to ask you SB, are you speaking from an armchair version of the news or are these your first hand experiences?

        We all have to be aware of the slanted news that our countries receive in other cultures too.