Brown Rice: Linear-Reactive Fusion

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Hello there! My name is Kenneth Kim and I am a Korean-American freshman at Brown from sunny Los Angeles, California. Welcome to my column, Brown Rice, where I’ll talk about everything Asian from clubs to culture to cuisine as I try to figure out life at Brown. So if you’re a fan of Asian food, Asian culture, or self-deprecating humor, come along for the ride!

Hey everyone, so this week, I wanted to call attention to an interesting article I read on the Business Insider about world cultures and how they compare to one another. Above is an image of the Lewis Model of Cultural Types, a graphic that compares the cultures of many countries around the world. The creator, British linguist and world traveler Richard Lewis, admits that generalizing as much as he does is a risky business, but clarifies that he applies the chart to societal norms, not to each individual within the country.

Now, why am I bringing this up here? Well, because I thought it would be an interesting discussion on the overlap of cultures and behaviors of Asians and Asian-Americans here at Brown.

As you can see above, many Asian countries are very much on the “Reactive” end of the spectrum (bottom right, yellow), whereas the U.S. lies firmly on the “linear-active” corner (bottom left, blue).

The more reactive countries are very people-oriented, reacting to others, listening much of the time, and seeking harmony in their environment. The more linear-active countries are job-oriented, planning meticulously, sticking to facts, and focusing on written word and results.

Living in America, I have definitely seen those aspects of my culture that emphasize a job and facts and a logical world, but also coming from my parents’ Korean culture, I definitely understand the importance of harmony in the surrounding community. As a hybrid produced by both cultures, I see aspects of both cultures (the focus on results, arguments from logic, harmony-seeking, listening most of the time) in myself.

Again, maybe you’re not entirely sure why I’m writing about this. To be honest, I’m not 100% sure either, but I think it’s because Brown can be a place to look inwardly and explore your culture. A time to look back to the background that raised you and fostered your values and priorities. It’s also a time to accept or let go of the behavioral norms of your culture. These are definitely issues I deal with, and that I believe many college students deal with it as well. What is most important to me? The people I care about now? The job I will have in a few years? The American individualism or the Asian collectivism? I myself am still seeking my way, and I invite you to take a look at yourself and find your own answers.

Here’s a link to the article for those who are more curious about the specifics of the Lewis Model: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-lewis-model-2013-9

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions about anything I talked about above,  just shoot me an email at Kenneth_Kim@brown.edu and I’ll answer to the best of my ability.

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