Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Mysteries of China

Culture is an incredible thing. It shapes who we are and how we see the world. As a second year MBA student at Thunderbird School of Global Management, I feel truly blessed to be surrounded with people from around the world. By living, working, and playing with these people, I have come to build some incredible friendships. One of my favorite experiences at Thunderbird occurs when I learn something new about a friend's culture. I treasure those moments as I feel I have gained a unique insight into my friend's background.

Not too long ago, I needed to get a document signed by several of my classmates. Given the incredible cultural diversity of Thunderbird, I found myself speaking with several of my Chinese classmates. I gave my first friend the piece of paper and a pen to sign. My friend placed the pen on the table and signed with his own pen. My second and third friends did the same. At this point in time, I knew that something was going on that I did not understand. I asked my friends why they had not signed with my pen and they responded that in China, it is unlucky to sign one's name in red ink. How interesting!
I just read a great WallStreet Journal article about a Thunderbird professor who recently made a cultural blunder in China. I do not want to give away the story, but my favorite part of the article is at the end when Professor Goddard's Chinese colleagues respect him by each giving him a penny. Please read the article... WallStreet Journal

Joel Montgomery

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