Sunday, October 5, 2014

Show some respect to your elders please!

Many students coming to Australia are quick to pick up Aussie habits, one of which is the way they address elders and teachers: first of given names like John, Peter, Linda, etc. 

Recently a friend asked if I could help facilitate his friend's daughter to do a short internship in the farm near Melbourne which I am associated with. I was happy to oblige. An SMS soon came through from her; it began with "Dear Yu Book". It really turned me off; nonetheless, I responded, but advised that she should not forget her oriental roots. She was all apologetic.

This is not the first time I saw Malaysian students were quick to pick up Aussie casualness. Earlier another friend's son who is doing his PhD also began his email to me with the "Dear Yu Book" stuff, I lost in correcting him.

Even at my age and station, I still address acquaintances and people I meet for the first time as Mr or Mrs or Madam. It is people who are much younger than me than I would call them by their given name. I find Indonesians are particular courteous; everyone is Pak or Ibu to them. I feel a little awkward when son-in-law's friends, some of whom are already very senior executives, addressing me as Uncle. But that's the type of upbringing many of us would actually like to see. I a a firm believer of Confucian etiquette. I was very strict with my children about the need to observe such cultural norm when they met their elders. I see with great pride that they are still practising it even though they were educated in Australia and are close to 40 now. To every friend of mine whom they knew from childhood, it was uncle or auntie to them; otherwise Mr or Mrs so and so. 

My Aussie staff, even those at entry level, are oblivious to the need to show respect to seniors or bosses. Based on their "first" name "ignorance", they would address me as "Yu", which I found most irritating. Since Yu Book was too much of a mouthful to them, I usually would advise me to call me "Lim". But few saw the need to address me as Mr Lim. (My oriental staff would, always without exception, address me as Mr Lim.) This lack of awareness also speaks volumes about Aussies' ability to handle the outside world!

No comments:

Post a Comment