Culture and Negotiated Meanings
Edited by Henriett Primecz, Laurence Romani and Sonja Sackmann
Chapter 10: Intercultural Integration in Sino–Brazilian Joint Ventures
Guilherme Azevedo1 Men’s natures are alike, it is their habits that carry them far apart. (Mencius in ‘The Three Character Classic’) THE INTEGRATION DINNER A friend of mine once told me a story. He had spent two years in Sweden studying mechanical engineering. There was a clear separation between the Swedes and the international students. The two groups lived in different places and, according to him, the Swedes did not hang out or mix much with the international students. There had been a polite relationship within the classrooms but a very low overall social interaction. The courses were in English, already a second language for most of the foreign students, and they had not made much effort to learn Swedish. During the holidays the Swedes would go home and the foreigners would stay at the university or travel in Europe. Most of the foreigners, as told my friend, had never been invited to a Swedish house or spent time with a Swedish family. The foreign students gradually started stereotyping their local colleagues as being distant, never doing anything on impulse and caring just about their own business. (I do not know what the Swedes thought of the international students.) After a year and half – with graduation approaching – the administrators of the programme decided to take action and organized an integration dinner. But things did not go as planned. Arriving at the large dining table, the international students flocked to one part of the table and the Swedes to the other....
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