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Newsletter: 2020 March

TCG Newsletter MArch 2020-hill

"There's joy in the mountains; There's life in
the fountains; Small clouds are sailing, Blue sky

– William Wordsworth, English poet, 1770-1850 –

The above is the extract of a poem, “Written in March” by William Wordsworth. A beautiful scene is awaiting the arrival of spring…that is, for those who reside in the northern hemisphere.

While many events have been halted due to the viral outbreak of Covid-19, perhaps, it is time for us to slow down our pace. Reconnect with nature, and with those close to us. Go smell a bluebell or a daffodil (in the field or at the florist!)

For March, there are celebrations throughout the month, but one may not know that there is a Mario Day in March. It is celebrated on March 10 (MAR10.) If you have grown up playing Donkey Kong, you would have been a fan of Mario and probably had many happy hours jumping over the barrels. Don’t be surprised that Mario may have a guest-appearance at Tokyo’s Olympics since his creator is Japanese. Here is a trailer to re-live the nostalgia if you are “stuck” at home due to the travel ban: Super Mario Odyssey.

                                                                                   How we were all once just kids! May the zest still be with you…

TCG Newsletter Mar2020 - Hygeine practices
A Journey A Month…
Your Story. Our Story. The Human Story.

“Why are you not wearing a mask?” That was the question from a caucasian man, himself not wearing a mask when he entered the lift. I was at a 5-stars hotel in Malaysia. Surprised and slightly taken aback, I looked at him and asked: “why should I?” He replied with another question, “are you not from China?”

Having lived in the UK, France, and the USA, and globetrotting around the world, I was fortunate not to have the experience of being discriminated against for my race. Ironically, now back in my birth country, my racial identity was in question. Finally, I now understand how it must have felt when one is being grouped unfavourably for his/her racial appearance.

Because of the outbreak of Covid-19, we see pathogen of prejudice spread racism against and amongst Asian ethnicity, reported the Economist. In times of crisis, we often get to see the best and worst of humanity, and racism is certainly not the pretty side.

The economic impact resulted from the supply chains shut-down in China, the clam-down of travels, and the movement of goods can be measured. We see a jittering investment community and tumbling stock markets around the world. However, there is a more severe impact caused by arising divisive racial profiling. Unlike the economy which will rebound (some predict it will be a fast recovery,) the hurt of the racial divide will take a long time to heal if left unchecked.

TCG Newsletter MArch 2020 - World Map

Back to the lift, after being profiled as a Wuhan-germs carrying “Chinese,” I quickly explained defensively that I actually live in Singapore. And, in Singapore, we are advised that unless one is sick, one does not need to wear a ” face mask.” Adding to that, I told him the way he asked his question could be rather offending. This prompted him to ask how he should have framed the question. My reply was perhaps, it could be a more neutral “Where are you from?” Well, I didn’t know if he was trying to be funny or he really did not realise the offence, because he then asked me: “Where are you from? Are you from Wuhan?”

In utter disbelief, I looked at him exasperatedly. I then tried to explain to him that not all Chinese people are from China, let alone Wuhan. I asked him if he has met any American or Canadian Chinese who were born in North America? He paused, nodded, and replied sheepishly: “ooh, yes…”
At this time, the lift door opened, I’ve arrived at my floor. Darting him an annoyed glance, I told him, by adding “Wuhan” in his question was equally as offending as his first question… Shaking my head, I said: “oh, by the way, I am French!” and left… The person was professionally dressed, very possibly an employee of a multi-national company and attending a business meeting or seminar at the hotel.
TCG Newsletter March 2020 - Med Doctor
It took me a while, but after calming down from the “disturbing” encounter, I asked myself: How could I have handled the situation better? Obviously, the short 60 seconds lift ride did not end well (at least not for me, and I doubt so for him…) How could I have gotten my points across more successfully, and perhaps make the situation less contentious?
This is what I will do: Instead of trying to explain the rationale of why I am not wearing a face-mask, I shall counter with a question: ” Can you tell me why you are not wearing a mask yourself?” If the answer were to be: “Well, I am not sick…” I hope when I answer “neither am I,” it will trigger him/her to realise that wearing a mask is to prevent a sick person from spreading germs, and it has got nothing to do with one’s race. Let’s say if the person were to answer (cheekily or by ignorance of the facts): “Well, I am not Chinese, only Chinese carry the germs.” This shall be the best because my response will be, ” If only Chinese carry the germs, then you should not be bothered whether if I wear a face-mask or not. Because if you are not Chinese, then the germs should not infect you, right?” Hopefully, the conversation will then lead to a burst of light-hearted laughter.
Honestly, I am not sure if that will work. Will seeking to understand before making myself understood lead to a better dialogue? First, it will at least help me to remove my bias against him (in this case, I have assumed that the person was offensive towards my race, so the conversation certainly did not start well.) Secondly, by expressing an interest in understanding his question, it may get us to think more “logically” and avoid any “emotional” debacle. Now, I have got my CQ strategy worked out for the situation, I am curious what the outcome shall be if this happens again… Amidst the global anxiety of the outbreak of Covid-19, we should unite instead of divide. Scientists around the world are working together to figure out the spread and to find a cure. Pointing finger on anyone is damaging and will not contribute to resolving the crisis.
TCG Newletter March 2020 - Colorful Rope
Solidarity of doing our part to prevent further spread is what the world is looking for. Besides the cure and preventive measures, I hope the world leaders will learn NOT to name the outbreak of any future diseases with a prefix denoting race or country of origin. Ultimately, humanity is ONE, and it is beyond the geographic boundary in our increasingly connected world. Stay safe…
We, at TransCultural Group (TCG), are determined to play our parts in making the world a better place, and we have teamed up with the Cultural Intelligence Centre, U.S.A to bring their well-researched and designed CQ assessment tools to our clients in the Asia Pacific.

We are passionate about building bridges and breaking down walls. Please join us in this journey,

Beyond Boundaries - Crossing Cultures

TCG building a strong network - hands

The world is fascinating, simply because

differences exist...

Spread the words, share the vision, do our parts.


Keng Keng Tan
Founder & CEO
TransCultural Group