MDes Talks: Cross-cultural Experience: Inside and Outside Classroom

As an International Design & Business Management (ID&BM) student at PolyU, cross-cultural management is an interesting topic and a course to experience. In today’s global management function, legal, political, technological, and cultural environments are all important sphere to consider.

The economic, legal, and political systems that have developed over time are the visible elements of a more fundamental set of shared meanings. And the extent to which individuals share beliefs about the world around them is an indication that they share a culture (Rohner, 1984).

Our classmates are coming from different cities and backgrounds, which provide many opportunities for cross-cultural interactions. Students are placed into groups maximised for diversity across gender, country of first six years of life, and undergraduate faculty. The idea is to emerge in the environment where one works with people with a completely different background than you.

Cross-cultural Experience: Chung King Mansions

Besides class activities, we were encouraged to explore Hong Kong culture by participating in field activities. Here I would like to share my experience of Chung King Mansions visit. The purpose of this field trip is to observe the behaviours of “foreign” people, such as, South Asians in Chung King Mansions, and identify a type of behaviour or behaviour sequence (a series of actions of individuals from that cultural group — routines, scripts, interaction patterns, etc.) that seems surprising, unusual or inappropriate to our group members. Then we are to analyse it, describing what cultural logic you think it arises from; speculate about what the behaviour or behaviour sequence means to the person doing it, as opposed to what the behaviour sequence would probably mean to a typical Hong Kong Cantonese person; and speculate about why this behaviour or behaviour sequence exists in South Asian culture (i.e., what functions it serves) and persists in this setting of Chung King Mansions.

During the fieldwork, we luckily had the chance to chat with the manager of the building and she told us people from more than a hundred countries passed through Chung King Mansions every year. People are busily doing all kinds of business and trades here.

Cross-cultural Experience: Chung King Mansions

We observed different varieties of restaurants inside of the Chung King Mansions. Backpackers were everywhere; we met three travellers doing yoga and meditation on the top of the roof.

Cross-cultural Experience: Chung King Mansions

After researched a brief history of Chung King Mansion, we realised that the place itself is a complex, dynamic environment. With this mix of guest workers, mainlanders, local Chinese, tourists and backpackers, the Chungking neighbourhood is one of the most culturally diverse locations in Hong Kong.

One insight from our group is that one can’t really categorise the kind of culture background which people in Chung King Mansions have, but the place itself developed its own unique culture.

Although some group members worried about the safety issues inside the building as they heard some exaggerated stories, we all had a meaningful experience through the fieldwork.

Photo Credit: Ethan Pitt

Posted by Ethan Pitt - With degrees in Economics and Media design. Worked in project management for two years. Now a graduate student at PolyU ID&BM programme. A newbie in the tech field, I am currently taking MOOCs on Computer Science, Graphic Design, and Social Change. I want to practise different skills so I will be able to turn my ideas into reality. I'm passionate about positive changes brought by technologies on education, energy, and social ventures.
MDes Talks is a series of Student Blogs contributed by students in different specialisms under the Master of Design Scheme. It is set out to share students’ first-hand experience in the d-school pedagogy, their projects, takeaways, and student life in general.