Big Cultural Differences
I’ve talked a lot about work and my travels, a few holidays, the apartment drama and now sweetness, but I haven’t shared too much about my cultural observations with you.
I think many of you have been loyal fans of OTBS since my days in Japan. And when I had that blog active, I shared lots of cultural stories. My work here doesn’t throw me into cultural situations as often as my days as a teacher in Japan. I learned something new about Japan and the Japanese, I think, everyday I lived there. Plus, I had oodles of spare time to soak it all up and write about it.
Admittedly, my new career has sucked up most of my time in the past seven months, and considering my office at the Press Club also serves as my main social outlet – I don’t get out much! I’ve shared my commitment for change on that front, and indeed things are beginning to balance out.
Well, a couple weeks ago, I experienced my first jaw-dropping moment. One of my brand new sales executives for the Press Club asked for 4 days off in her probation period. This surprised me, as it would you – isn’t this the time to give 110%??? Well, it turns out that this married mother of a 4-month-old accidentally got pregnant again. And because it is bad timing for her, and because it was an accident, she decided to abort.
Now, let me make something perfectly clear…I don’t have an issue with her wanting an abortion. I’m not interested in getting in a debate here as to who is for and against abortion. I believe that is a private decision and a personal decision and not one I want to impose on anyone else. That’s not the point of my sharing this experience with you.
The shock to me was that the entire office knew she was off to have an abortion and that this idea was looked upon as casually as having to take four days off for the flu. No big deal. If I were ever in that situation – and I’m thankful I’ve never had to make those tough choices – I certainly wouldn’t want the entire office to know my personal business!!! To me, that is one of the most private issues a woman can face!
Kurt was a bit surprised that I was so in shock, and this situation gave us a nice opportunity to discuss this point. Essentially, in Vietnam, safe sex is not understood nor usually practiced and there are no hesitations to have abortions. It goes without saying that STDs and HIV/AIDS are almost a bigger issues than pregnancy. Abortion, though is simply seen as a medical procedure which takes care of a health issue. The casualness of this decision and the manner in which it is freely shared and known among all sort of freaks me out.
I’ve witnessed a lot and learned much in my travels and my life abroad. Clearly, I wasn’t prepared for this, and I’m still, after a few weeks, trying to get my head around it.
On the Bright Side,