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Different Donations, Same Spirit

We are a team from China, by the name of Cougars which is composed of 4 members. We came here two weeks ago. Definitely it was an amazing journey for us; in the meantime, it is also an adventure which we never met before. Why? Because of so many differences which we call ‘culture bumps’.

In the past week, we videotaped a couple of conversations between some foreigners and us, and witnessed five culture bumps about American and Chinese culture on the UH campus, including how to respond to cold weather, eating habits, drinking habits, donation concepts and traffic rules.

Based on the information we collected, we made a movie to demonstrate the story concerning culture bumps, analyzed the reasons for one of them and drew a conclusion.

The point we want to analyze today is the different characteristics between American and Chinese charity culture. Specifically, we were surprised, curious and confused when we saw that there are lots of donation boxes installed in American streets.

When we discussed the bump in our team, we realized there are quite a number of characteristics which are shared and accepted by the majority of all countries in human history. The spirit of helping others who are in trouble is undoubtedly among them. Donations reflect this spirit. We believe it is evident that Chinese and Americans have the equivalent understanding in this regard.

After identifying the above commonality between the two countries, we need to take a close look at the differences in how they practice donation, which is the crucial point of our culture bump. To clarify, we would like to pinpoint three major differences.

Point one: The charitable consciousness of people.

In China, helping others is seen as a moral obligation but only a minority actually manage to make donations. In the USA, helping others is seen as a citizen’s responsibility, and parents teach their children that charitable donations must be made.

Point two: The source of donations

The main source of donations in America is the individual person. Personal charitable donations accounted for more than 75% of all charitable donations. However, companies and corporations provide the majority of Chinese charitable donations.

Point three, Use of donation.

Most American charitable donations will go to churches, education organizations, health care agencies and public service centers. While China’s charitable donations mainly focus on some urgent fields, such as school buildings in backward areas or the victims of the major natural disasters.

After analyzing the differences, we realized the vast difference in practice between the two countries has deep roots in the way of doing thing and thinking in many aspects. American people focus on the implementation while Chinese people stick to expression forms when they are facing similar questions, the immediate example is donation.

Having understood the reason behind the bump, an attempt to accept the differences while pursuing the commonalities is what we should do now. We believe both American and Chinese have shining points which the other party could learn from, and dark points from which the other party may take as a lesson.

In our opinion, both of the countries can learn a lot from each other in terms of enlarging the access and availability of donation in the average person’s daily life by improving people’s awareness of donation, and reminding them that giving is another side to getting from the other.

As Chinese people who are encountering many culture bumps currently, we have our own expectation for donation. In the short term, we could study it ,accept it and make it better; in the long run ,we should combine the oriental and occidental spirits of helping, embrace the different forms of it in the two countries, and create a new understanding and practice to give the fundamental human behavior of helping others a better future.

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