Search Results For : intercultural

As it turns out, I am not only multi-national, multi-lingual, but also multi-passionate (passional – if I could take poetic license). Passionate about communication, raising aware children, practicing yoga, peace-building, cultural awareness, gender equality, the environment, open-ness, sharing…the list goes on. This may be a “if, then” conclusion, I don’t know. If you grow up speaking many languages, traveling many countries, then you will also have many passions. Yes, no? Or “if you are a women, then you will have many passions.” As I find this phenomenon more readily a feminine trait than a masculine. I happened across this Marie Forleo video which I felt was directed AT me. I couldn’t believe that the one thing she said she would do differently – was exactly the one thing that has been tormenting me the past couple of months, perhaps years:

I don’t have an elevator speech.

Just as I was envious of people who had ONE hometown, I am envious of people who have ONE occupation. And can therefore have ONE easy elevator speech. The conventional way. You grow up somewhere, you go study something, and then you become a professional in that one thing. But how many people today can still fit in that box? And furthermore, how many people IN THE FUTURE will fit in that box? Our children’s generation is going to be full of the “multi” people – and they may even be in the majority. I have two nationalities – our children have three. In the family I was raised, we were all born in the same country, one country. And in the family I am raising, we were born in four countries. If I thought the speech was difficult for me, imagine the struggle for our children.

Below is curated advice based upon what I have read and have been thinking:

Depending on the time and place, the speech will change. So as opposed to those who have ONE “in the can,” we “multi’s” need to think on our feet and develop MULTI-speeches. And our past and present experiences should help us to be able to do that pretty easily. So, if I am asked, “what do you do?” and it’s a more casual, social setting, I will answer

There are a lot of things I do, and this is what I’ve been working on lately…

and I will genuinely pick whatever is hot on my plate.

And if it’s a professional setting, I will try to assess what of my many passions could be relevant for the person asking and answer the same way, but pick whatever is hot on his/her plate.

So, I guess I am following Marie’s recommendation and ending the self-torture of the one speech. I still believe I need one and fully appreciate the reasons why. But it’s gonna come out of the “hat” rather than the “can.” And there is a lot of space in that hat of mine.

This past weekend, Patrick and I had the honor of being invited to our first Chinese wedding. Shuo Duan, who works with Patrick at Schaeffler, and his wife Li Ye have both lived, studied and worked in Germany before they moved back to their homeland China. They fell in love five years ago and just tied the knot on tropical island, Hainan. It was a beautiful and very touching ceremony, a testament to their love. Family, respect, honor, tradition – these are the words that come to mind when I think back on it. There were about 60 guests, mostly Chinese with the exception of the Schaeffler crew and Duan’s stepfather. Duan arranged everything to the utmost detail, the gracious host. After the wedding on Sunday morning, we were driven to Sanya, the island’s tourist spot with the beautiful sand beaches. I left on Sunday night, but Patrick stayed on with his friends Jozef and Jens to have a couple of relaxing days, touring the town and scenic spots. We missed the memo about bringing matching Hawaiian outfits. Till next time Sanya!

July 22, 2008

My first mainland China business trip covered two major cities in Central China: Chengdu and Wuhan.

Below a list of what I have started to call “out of body experiences,” as when they are happening I suddenly feel I have stepped outside of my physical body and watch the episode from another perserpective:

1) Listening to Chengdu distributor explain why he put stickers of “Nemo” and“Mickey Mouse” on our prized Aveo collection of insulated mugs: “they are too white”

2) Eating sushi in the back of a audacious Chengdu taxi while colleagues chomped down on life-sized beef slices (famous local food)

3) Introducing myself to our the buyer of our largest retailer whose Japanese company requires all employees to wear hideous uniforms with red bow ties – regardless if you are a manager or working on the shop floor

4) Accidentally forgetting my and my colleagues’ laptops in the back of a taxi and then waiting for 2 hours until we could locate the driver who eventually brought them back

5) Driving along the streets of Wuhan with three from my team and our distributor singing to “Brother Louie”

6) My colleague ripping the back of his pants on a airport seat and having to wear his extra shirt around his waist – tucked into his belt – the rest of the night

7) Listening to explanation from China Eastern Airlines for cancellation of flight back to Shanghai: they “lost” the plane

8) A bus load of “cancelled” passengers driving around Wuhan at 10pm looking for the hotel the airline would put us up in for the night – driver was also lost

9) Opening the door to hotel room carpeted in black (original color: beige)

10) Getting a phone call after one hour in the hotel that we are to go to back to the airport for our flight to Shanghai

“Kung pao chicken” made official for Olympics


Wed Jun 18, 2008 2:11pm


BEIJING (Reuters) – It’s official. Hungry foreign hordes craving a fix of diced chicken fried with chili and peanuts during the Beijing Olympics will be able to shout “kung pao chicken!” and have some hope of getting just that. As it readies for an influx of visitors for the August Games, the Chinese capital has offered restaurants an official English translation of local dishes whose exotic names and alarming translations can leave foreign visitors frustrated and famished. If officials have their way, local newspapers reported on Wednesday, English-speaking visitors will be able to order “beef and ox tripe in chili sauce,” an appetizer, rather than “husband and wife’s lung slice.” Other favorites have also received a linguistic makeover. “Bean curd made by a pock-marked woman,” as the Beijing Youth Daily rendered the spicy Sichuanese dish, is now “Mapo tofu.” And “chicken without sexual life” becomes mere “steamed pullet.” According to one widely repeated story, the Chinese name of “kung pao chicken” comes from the name of an imperial official who was fed the dish during an inspection tour. With the Beijing Olympics 51 days away, a notice on the city tourism bureau website ( ) told restaurants to come and pick up a book with the suggested translations. In China, where meetings are almost as popular as banquets, agreeing on the English-language menu has taken many rounds of discussions over previous drafts since last year. Just as predictably in this country where nationalism and the Internet make a potent brew, controversy has already broken out over the blander new translations.  “I don’t like this new naming method, it’s abandoning Chinese tradition,” one Internet comment declared. “There are many stories in the names of these dishes.”


(Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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