How to be Open-Minded During Your Program

By: Crystal Du, Greenheart Exchange Marketing and Outreach Intern

Hi, I am Crystal. Welcome to my Crystal Clear Tips blog post series! I was a J-1 high school student when I first came to the U.S. from China. I have since grown from a teenager to an independent adult; I have grown from being unexposed to being multi-cultural and mature. There is so much to learn about the world and myself throughout my time in the U.S.

Now that you are in the U.S. and there are differences around you, you may be thinking to yourself “this is not how it is done in my country”. It is hard to open your mind and expose yourself to something that you are not used to. Additionally, cultural differences can make it even harder for us to appreciate values that we have not been exposed to previously.

I have a story to share about my personal growth. When I lived in China, topics surrounding the LGBTQ population were something that nobody talked about at the dinner table. It was something that people considered wrong or against mainstream society. Because of this, when I first came over to the U.S., I was shocked that so many people were working on gay rights and LGBTQ equality campaigns. I have learned that it is not right or wrong to obey the traditional gender roles, it is just personal preference. After having personal connections with friends who are involved in the LGBTQ community, I realized that I had a sheltered view which caused my thoughts to be heavily biased.

Based on my experience, I have a few suggestions:

  • Try to expose yourself to new things; talk to people that you don’t normally hang out with. We always learn something new by leaving our comfort zone. For instance, talk to a stranger on the train, or talk to the cashier when you pay; you might get some unexpected insight!
  • Read the news and observe your surroundings. Pay attention to where you are and watch how people act. This will help you understand people and how you can interact with them.
  • Keep a non-judgmental attitude towards social issues. Think in a way that doesn’t put something into the absolute right or wrong category without further research and investigation.

Being open-minded can bring you a positive attitude, new friends, and fun cultural experiences. Check out more of Crystal’s tips to live with mindfulness in the U.S.!

Continue reading more tips here!