Culture Differences Research

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Culture explains each and every section of a person’s life. It is the know-how and characteristics of a particular group of individuals, described by using factors such as religion, language, social habits, cuisine, music, and arts. The world is full of people that belong to one-of-a-kind cultures but they are on occasion forced to relate and have interaction in quite a number ways. The Americans and the Chinese are examples of humans with exceptional cultures as anthropologist Francis Hsu illustrates. Hessler shares the sentiments in his book titled Hassle`s River Town. The particularly various cultures of the Americans and Chinese influence their special way of life, principles, views, and understanding of life.
Hassle`s River Town by Hessler (2013) presents a clear and insightful analysis of modern China through a depiction of the city of Fuling. Hessler brings his wordings to life through his description of the town by illustrating the Yangtze River valley’s terraced hills and the spirit of continuity that goes beyond the lively political centers of Shanghai and Beijing. Through a vivid and touching revelation, Hessler then brings his audience to view and realize how the city gradually follows a different path along with other towns in a world defined by globalization and ever-evolving China. Inundated with compassion, candor, and unique insights, Hessler effectively communicates how Fuling slowly becomes a place full of energy, change, reform, tension, disruption as well as opportunities. The written thoughts of the author make a reader understand the people of Fuling when they try to hold on to their traditional view of China as they also struggle and open up to a world of uncertainty.

Through his personal experience and narration of his journey in the city throughout the province of Sichuan and beyond, we can relate with his encounter as it gives him a first-hand opportunity to describe the unique journey to Fuling. Thus, we can understand the history of Communist China characterized by land reforms struggles, misguided economic policies, and the unimaginable Cultural Revolution damage – as well as the future Three Gorges Dam, which could partly flood the city and force the resettlement of millions of locals.

Hessler also provides his readers with a precise and elaborate account of the locals when he teaches English and American literature at a local college where he comes to know the people and learns the language of the locals. Readers are provided with a broad understanding through Hessler’s stunning account of the people he meets, from prostitutes to priests and professors to peasants, and gives their views an appealing voice. It is evident that the book presents an intimate personal story of Hessler’s life in Fuling and a brilliantly written report of the region’s history and surrounding landscape. Hilarious, emotional, imaginative, and outright gripping, River Town is one of the unforgettable narratives of a city that, like China, is seeking to realize what it was and what it could be in the future.

A Comparison between the Americans and the Chinese

According to Francis Hsu, the two main differences between the Americans and Chinese are the prominence of emotions versus an under-play of every emotional issue, and individual-centered versus situation-centered. Hsu stated that the Americans believe in being self-reliant and they usually get involved in unstable relationships that are the major causes of social issues such as racial discord, crime, and corruption in government. Whereas in China, there was an established focus on relationships based on kinship that made the society incapable of countering the colonialism of the West, famine, and poverty as well as foot binding practice on women (Hsu 218). Hsu also discovered that unlike the Chinese, the Americans are only concerned with themselves and usually act according to what benefits them, while the Chinese habitually consider the situation at hand. Thus, they tend to avoid controversial topics, open criticisms, and direct confrontations to maintain harmony (Hsu 238).

One aspect of Hassle`s River Town that got me interested was the difference in cultural issues surrounding the Chinese education system. As Hessler describes, the students had similar thoughts regarding most issues, and their opinions were highly resolute. In the eyes of Hessler, it could seem like they were brainwashed, but when he compares to the past, he realizes they were free and reasoned with due diligence (Hessler 23). It was also surprising how they could communicate to Hessler indirectly through their writings, indicating that they were eager to learn and used all means to communicate their messages (Hessler 25). China’s learning environment is also demanding and highly competitive, and the students’ expectations are equally high, which makes them strive hard to realize their fullest potential. Besides, unlike in the United States, the students in China do not have the privilege of choosing their classes from a list of electives; instead, they are assigned according to their scores. Hence, the skills and abilities of students in America determine their progress; but in China, their parents and the society decide their future. This difference is what Francis Hsu describes when he looks at the cultural distinctions between the Americans and the Chinese.

It is my believe that when writing the Hassle`s River Town, Hessler was objective. Every time he represented opinions or thoughts of the Fuling people and his students, he made sure to follow it up with their brief background and history so that we can understand their past and relate to their present actions and behaviors. Nonetheless, the book contains few instances of bias, but it was never entirely evident.

Similarities between the Americans and Chinese

Despite many differences between the Americans and the Chinese, few similarities unite them. For instance, both the American and Chinese cultures value and appreciate punctuality. They all see punctuality as a real virtue that shows respect. Since both cultures emphasize on establishing and maintaining healthy relationships, honoring the time of others is a primary requirement to achieve that. Secondly, both the Americans and the Chinese make use of consensus in decision making. It is a central aspect that is encouraged to avoid unnecessary confrontations and misunderstandings.


The readings of Francis Hsu and Hessler describe the different cultures of the Americans and the Chinese. Both American and Chinese values are beautiful and unique in their ways. Sometimes it is unavoidable that misunderstandings may occur when people from the two regions meet. But despite the cultural distinctions, and as Hessler realizes during his stay in China, these gaps can easily be bridged through mutual consideration and cultural awareness. Hence, it is important to understand other people’s culture and not discriminate or judge them because of their differences.

Works Cited

Hessler, Peter. River Town: Two years on the Yangtze. Hachette UK, 2013.

Hsu, Francis LK. Americans and Chinese: Passage to differences. Bookman Book, 1981.

Qu, Yang, Eva M. Pomerantz, and Ciping Deng. “Mothers’ goals for adolescents in the United States and China: Content and transmission.”Journal of Research on Adolescence, no. 1, 2016, 126-141.

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