Diversity in Asian Region

“Please talk about the Latin American and Caribbean region you worked for, and compare with the Asian region”

Once I had an job interview for the position of Asian regional office, and this was one of the questions I was asked. I remember that I could not answer very well (e.g. I said something like “Latin America has the highest inequality rate in the world whereas Asia has high rate of natural hazard and out of school children so there are different challenges…).

At that time, I was not confident about my answer at all, and even after working in this Asian region for nearly 2 years, I don’t think I have clear answer. Part of the reasons is that Asia is too diverse to generalize, which I have seen in the last 3 months when I travelled.

From last November to February, I travelled quite a lot (mostly for work) which looks like as follows (with temprature):

  1. Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar  (-20℃): I was getting used to the this urban city life and extreme coldness.
  2. Philippines, Manila (30℃). Very nice weather and there are many ethnic minorities who speak different language. Their official language (Tagalog) has some Spanish words since it was their colony
  3. Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar (-25℃): Ulaanbaatar is getting colder
  4. Japan, Osaka (5℃): So many different foods especially fish (here I gained 5kg)
  5. Mongolia Bayan-Ulgii (-30℃): Far west province of the country with many mountains where 90% is Kazakh ethnic minority who speak Kazakh as a native
  6. Laos, Vientiane (25℃): Great weather and food, and people are very humble. Some elder people speak French (former colony) in this socialist country.
  7. Mongolia, Dornod (-30℃): Far east province of the country with flat land unlike other areas (and there is no salt in their milk tea). During the WWII, Japan attacked here and lost by Mongolian and Soviet army

My conclusion is that, even within a country, there is big difference (see above 1, 5 and 7), which can be the same for other countries. Thus, generalizing the region is even more difficult. Next time I am asked about comparing regions, I would be more confident to tell that it is difficult to compare.

February 21st is international mother tongue day, which promote the importance of native langues, especially for the 40% of children who cannot learn at school in their native language.

In fact, the diversity is what makes the world more  interesting and what makes us learn from the difference. Since I left Japan where there is relatively less diversity (or tendency to accept it ) than other countries, I realized that it was so natural to have many differences. So we need to embrace the difference more instead of excluding it.

This time, I learned that:
Diversity is the nature of human society, thus there is no need to generalize the characteristic of the country, let alone the region. 

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