Saturday, February 25, 2012

The International Appeal

It has been a while since I posted something on CB. I have been working mad hours in South Korea and haven't had much time to do anything other than eating or sleeping. I have been noticing an increase in popularity as of recent and most of my questions and comments have been via Facebook. So, I'll make this one extra special.

Any who, I want to talk about "the international appeal." What exactly consists of this image? This is really a response to this article and I want to address somethings.

It has been almost 5 years since the US economy has plummeted and there is this call for international appeal. People are suddenly trying to do what I have done 5 years ago. It's great. I have to say there is an interesting parallel with the failure that is the US economy and its juxtaposition to my success. Part of the failure that is the US in my humble opinion, is its notion that English should be the only language embraced and there should be no support signs in any other language.

I think this notion is preposterous and the very fact that these signs exist are to help the foreign patron. I think Americans themselves do not want to admit that they are afraid of misunderstandings.

With the Internet and applications this whole notion that language support should be isolated to a singular language is a very dangerous notion of isolationism. Isolationism is part of the problem we faced in the 1930s in the United States and is the mindset that ones culture is better than another's. With technology being at the advanced state that it is, there should be little to no problems with communication:

However, there still are many foreigners that go to another country and make absolutely no effort to understand the customs of that country. Then when they try to act American in another country they are surprised they are ridiculed and are insulted for their behavior. And employers can sift through a stack of applicants and see which candidate has actually received a cultural exchange that actually has some merit versus someone who just partied it up.

If you are reading this article and are thinking about going to another country. While it isn't mandatory that you intermediate or advanced proficiency in a language, people should at least get a basic level. After all, most people who seek to get the "international appeal" stay in their host country for at least 3 months to one year. Why would anyone want to burden their hosts with their ability to communicate is beyond me. While one should enjoy themselves in a country, they should exercise a level of prudence with their hosts. In other words, err on the side of caution. There is no real need to act like an arrogant Anglophone. There will be times and places to party, but I honestly believe people shouldn't treat their trip abroad as one giant hoopla.

However, I think part of the problem is that many Americans do not know how to obtain the "international appeal" mainly due to an inherent ignorance in America. We are often taught that the English language is the most superior language and no one should bother trying to learn another language. Sadly, most of the people I have bypassed in the job market have were monolingual and monocultural.

It only takes a few months to reach an intermediate level of proficiency in a language and there are misconceptions about the amount of time you have to put forth. Sadly, this also falls on their current American generation and this cultural promotion that laziness and anti-intellectualism is suddenly the "in" thing. When people make mistakes in a language they are often criticized as being incompetent, too. If there are people who believe they do not have the time to make the effort to reach even a beginner level of proficiency in a language, they should at least make the effort to learn some facets about the target countries culture. I understand and am aware that not everyone has the time to study,
but at least take the time to figure out what is okay and what isn't. Trust me, if you were to take just 20-30 minutes of your day to learn something about the country your going to visit or work in, it will save you from insurmountable unforeseen headaches in the future. When you the prospective graduate are choosing to embark on one of the most incredible journeys of your life, how do your wish to remember it? Do you want it to be a fruitful one, ripe with experience and growth as a human being or do you want to be the person who happens on the blunt end of every misconception and misunderstanding? Just ask yourself is it necessary to actually travel abroad. If you have a hard time adjusting to different people and cultures, you might want to actually take baby steps prior to going over to another country. While I do not really care for Lonely Planet books, you can browse them to get a general overview of the country you plan on visiting. You will thank yourself later for doing so.

To wrap things up, the "international appeal" on a individual level and a national level is obtainable. It will take many years of effort on a national level, but on the the individual level, the person needs to evaluate themselves to see if they are a reputable candidate for their host country. If they like working countries like Japan and Korea might be possible places to go or if they want some free time in their days to do other things besides work, they probably should consider Germany or the Netherlands. But ultimately, work abroad should provide an experience with interacting with other cultures. Having international appeal is "win-win" for everyone. I honestly wish the future prospective college students and future leaders the best of luck. It has been a crazy, yet fulfilling ride for me.