Last week, my challenge was not only to address Asian American professionals, but Hispanics, too. I was a speaker at the Executive Development Institute’s (EDI) kick-off leadership program at the SeaTac Airport Double Tree Inn.
When I posed a question about cross-cultural friendship to both groups, I learned that the Hispanic group reaches out more to “ethnic outsiders” than the Asian group does. Hispanics in the audience have many more close Asian friends than Asians that have Hispanics friends.
Although the poll was hardly scientific, the Asian community does have a lot to learn from its Hispanic counterpart. The EDI program emphasizes leadership development with the focus of helping individuals to break the glass ceiling of corporate America.
What these students need is an integrated course in social education. All 21st century leaders should be equipped with the ability to relate to diverse groups in America and collaborate in problem-solving.
America’s strength is in its diversity. If we don’t cultivate our strength, we will not only lose it, but it will more likely create conflicts, confrontations, and rivalries among ethnic groups.
So what did I keep out of my speech?
My good Hispanic friends are aware of my biases towards their community, which I try not to reveal during my speech. I love to watch comedian George Lopez, but I don’t care for Mexican food. It’s not the taste so much as its unhealthy ingredients, such as lard and the thick sauces in much of its cuisine.
Most of the time, my Hispanic contractors have no concept of time. If they say they’ll come at 5 p.m., they will not show up until 8 p.m. Sometimes, they don’t even call when they don’t show up. But the thing is, when they work, they work really hard to satisfy, without any grumbling.
The only thing I leaked out during the question and answer session was that I dislike Mexican food.
If you look inside the kitchens of Chinese restaurants, you will find many Mexican workers. Before the Todai restaurants in Seattle and Redmond were closed, you would see a large number of Mexicans cooking major entrees. This is a trend even in mainstream restaurants where Mexican chefs lead kitchens. Hispanic Americans demonstrate a great work ethic and flexibility. They don’t demand something unreasonable, one restaurateur said. ♦