As regular readers of this blog know, I have a long history of work in Asia, especially in China and Vietnam. I speak the languages of both of those countries and got to know their citizens. And I don’t deny a deep fondness for the Chinese and the Vietnamese.
Today, the U.S. is home to many former residents of China and Vietnam as well as those from other Asian countries. All that I have talked to express gratitude for the opportunity to live here. They also show an inclination that sets them aside from other Americans: their devotion to learning.
Nearly all Asians I have known have worked hard to educate themselves earning college and port-graduate degrees. They cherish learning far more than their western counterparts. We western Americans often look upon schooling as an unpleasant necessity, and we characteristically avoid as much of it as we can. I always stood out from my fellow Americans because of my love of learning and ended up earning a master’s degree, a doctorate, and then some. The great reward of education for me was learning how to think better. Because I am a writer by vocation, clear and vivid thinking is invaluable.
So I share with Asian citizens a love of study not usually found among Americans with a European heritage. And I conclude that, yes, my Asian friends are indeed the smarter ones: they see treasures where the rest of us are blind.