Global People Future
A Kazak / Korean Barmaid & Medical Student in Shanghai
Here in a Shanghai beer bar a barmaid is pouring a dozen countries’ brews. She’s in China, but she’s from Kazakhstan. She looks Asian, but her native tongue is Russian. I chat with her in Chinese, but her English is much better and her accent American.
She wouldn’t stand out in any American city, nor hardly in the countryside. And that’s the point. She’s Koryo-saram, something I had to look up. It refers to hundreds of thousands of Koreans forcibly moved by the Soviets to various USSR states in the 1930s, mostly to Kazakhstan. So she’s Kazak, but not really. And Korean, but not really. And too young to have ever been Soviet.
She wouldn’t stand out in any American city, nor hardly in the countryside.
She’s in China studying medicine on China’s dime, and people like her are the future — youth moving around the increasingly globalized world. Such young people are moving between countries, cultures, and languages, combining it all into a result not quite yet visible as perhaps the first truly globalized generation. They are from everywhere and, to some extent, nowhere, and often speaking American English they picked up in school and from the movies.
While her way here is paid for by the Chinese government, her schooling is in English, such that her Chinese is quite poor. Thus she’s much more likely to end up in America (and as an American) than ever staying here or becoming Chinese. That’s Globalization & American soft power at work.
What does girls like this add to the world? Much, I’m sure.
She will spend the rest of her life in and among the confluence of diverse knowledge, languages, and cultures, drawing on her background and experiences along the way. After all, she’s only 20 years old, and you don’t need to look hard to see the global future in her. She’s bright, bubbly, and full of the future that lies before her.
As I wrote in my book, “Offshoring The Middle Class,” we need much more of this. In fact, I’d argue it’s our duty to encourage our kids to travel and become multi-cultural. And encourage companies. schools, etc. to both attract and distribute kids to and from the world.
Immigrants, migrants, cross-country, cross-culture, and multi-lingual integration along with the melting pot effect bring us all closer together. It also leverages global talent in service of us all — look no further than the San Francisco Bay Area, where it’s common to attend a 10-person meeting where everyone was born in a different country.
It’s not easy, but not impossible; in fact, not difficult if you have the right mindset. And despite far-right and GOP backlashes, diversification and integration are happening, around American and around the world. Your job is to accelerate them.
- What are you doing to be more global, especially if you have time during the pandemic?
- What new & far away place will you go to after the pandemic? How about the real Madagascar or Easter Island or Riga?
- Have you watched unusual movies recently, say from Iran, Russia, or other places with great movie traditions?
- How can you support more of these global-trotting youth, so they are better integrated where you are, and so you can learn more about where they are from?
References & Resources:
- Koryo-saram on Wikipedia
- Koryo-saram in the USA — Nice five minute intro on Youtube
- Documentary Film on Koryo-saram
- Offshoring the Middle Class on Amazon
Originally published at https://mushnet.substack.com