The internet has blurred physical national borders, and turned the globe into a huge village, it is commonly argued.
While that is true, some people, however, seem to have mixed up the concept of globalization and global village.
Visiting another place for sightseeing or education or business is part of everyday lives of most people. Does that mean we can call ourselves global villagers?
I met a friend from Chile recently. He joined a one-year exchange program in Hong Kong back during his secondary school days. That experience impressed him so much, and he decided to return to the city several years later.
He eventually got married in Hong Kong and built a career in the city.
Having lived in Hong Kong for 10 years, this new friend can speak very fluent Cantonese. He loves shopping at the wet markets, and local snacks like egg tart and egg waffle are some of his favorites.
Being a global villager means one has to mingle with locals and adapt to local lifestyle. Many people move to a foreign nation for education or work, but some of them just stay in their comfort zones even in the new place.
They only hang out with a small circle of friends coming from their home countries and have no interest in learning the local language.
In a certain sense, they are effectively just visitors no matter how long they stay in the foreign place.
Former South African leader Nelson Mandela once said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. “
If you want to get into one’s heart, you have to speak his or her mother tongue.
Different places have different cultures. We should try to experience that difference and strive to adapt.
As global villagers, we should enrich our experiences and widen our horizons by learning from other cultures.
As my Chile friend noted, combining his country’s culture and the culture of a foreign land forms a third culture.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug 30
Translation by Julie Zhu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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