The Cross Cultural Discussion Program brings together AAF members who wish to discuss and reflect on a variety of intriguing topics related to cross cultural trends. The discussions take place at members’ homes a few times a year. Some of the recent discussions are briefly described below:
BRINGING UP BABY: CHILDREARING IN SEVERAL ASIAN COUNTRIES
Changes in family life post- WWII presented challenges and changes in long-held notions of parenting in the U.S. as well as in Asian countries. Members from countries such as Bangladesh, India, Korea, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka shared tales and explored their various experiences of growing up. Participants whose children were raised in the U.S. reflected on how their own personal history influenced—or did not influence—their children’s upbringing in the U.S.
THE CHANGING ROLE OF WOMEN IN ASIA
Over the past ten to twenty years women’s roles in many Asian countries have undergone considerable change. Women have new, challenging employment opportunities, often the result of expanded educational opportunities and more flexible family structure. Many women now hold leadership positions in government, politics, industry, the judiciary, and more. As women’s roles change, effects can be seen on patterns of marriage, child bearing, schooling, and the place of grandparents. In some countries, it was noted, change has been much more reluctant.
YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND TOMORROW
In some Asian countries, marriage traditions of the past tend to persist. Yet, in other countries, traditional practices have become more liberal. Not surprisingly, there have been dramatic influences on the selection of a marriage partner, the traditional role of parents and other relatives in the selection process, courtship practices, the marriage ceremony, the presentation of gifts, the site of a home for the newly-married couple, and the possibility of divorce. Disruptions in family relations where, for instance, the bride and groom come from different backgrounds or have met while overseas, can result in crises for the entire family.
Discussants contributed examples of body language, an unspoken but powerful form of communication, from their home country. By the end of the discussion, participants agreed that the many kinds of body language– hugs, shrugs, bows, physical distance, eye contact, facial expressions and more—can be as significant as the words that we speak.