Human Nature

There are cultural differences between England, Australia and Sri Lanka. There are differences between stereotypical English, Australians and Sri Lankans. There are general tendencies that are more or less prevalent in the three different countries.

Australia and England differ from Sri Lanka in that in Sri Lanka there are few foriegners and the culture is quite uniform. I have been staying in Sinhalese areas with Sinhalese people – so almost everyone I have met is Sinhalese. And while there are some differences between Kandy, Colombo, Ratnapura etc the differences are quite minor. In England and Australia there are very many more people who are not English/Australian. And even those who are natives may only be 2nd or 3rd generation so their culture is frequently that of their parents, grandparents or great grandparents or more likely a fusion of several different cultures.

I was asked what the main food is in England and I found it very difficult to answer. There just isn’t the uniformity of food consumption there that there is here. Here, everyone eats rice and curry, most people eat it three times a day. Some people will have hoppers, string hoppers, bread or noodles – all with curry. But they will only have these at most once a day, but more likely once a week or once a month.

But despite the differences – which are certainly real and noticeable – there are many similarities.

People are people. Wherever you are. Some people are really lovely. Some are not. Some are really very hospitable. Some are not. Some are very generous. Some are not. And I’ve met some of each in Australia, England and Sri Lanka.

In staff rooms in English schools there are conversations about the relative quality and commitment of the teaching staff. There are teachers in England who are very dedicated to their students and to their own skills as teachers. There are teachers in England who seem to hate teaching and resent it and their students. There are teachers in England who think they are perfect and that there is absolutely no scope for improvement whatsoever. There are teachers in England who go to work, teach and go home again without a second thought for the students or their teaching. There are teachers in England who seem to only teach for the chance to exercise power over their students. Each of these species of teacher can be found in Sri Lanka too.

There are conversations at the dinner table about the neighbours. There are bad neighbours and good neighbours (anyone currently singing the Neighbours theme tune, please stop before you get thumped by the person sitting next to you 🙂 ). Parents complain that their children are lazy. Children complain that their parents don’t understand them and are too strict. Teenagers complain because the world doesn’t understand them and they are powerless. Some students work hard and enjoy classes and respect their teachers. Some students are lazy and do no work and disrupt classes and have no respect for their teachers (even if they stand when the teacher walks into the room).

Basically, people are people, everywhere you go. Each person you meet is an individual. Just because someone comes from Sri Lanka doesn’t mean they will be exceedingly hospitable, or that they will be unreliable. Just because someone comes from Australia does not mean they will be good at sport, or that they will be a drunken moron. Just because someone comes from England does not mean that they will be very polite, or that they will be a football hooligan.

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