A Need for Understanding

Derek - Idaho Falls, Idaho
Entered on September 16, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

A Need for Understanding

I believe in understanding. For two years I have lived in Hong Kong, one of the most international cities in the world—the Gateway to China. I was only 19 years old when I first arrived, and in a very real sense the world that I had always known was turned upside down. The thousands of people that surrounded me had been raised with very different life-styles than that which I was accustomed to. It was the first time in my life that I had associated not only with the Chinese, but with Indonesian, Nepalese, Filipino, Sri Lankan, Thai, Indian and many more nationalities as well, each of them on a daily basis. It seemed as though the world’s population had been fit inside this one city. Naturally, I felt uneasy. Everything around me was different from what I was programmed to have it be. The buildings were too tall, the streets were too loud, and above all I couldn’t understand a word of anything that was said.

As time passed, however, as I studied the language and lived among the people, life became easier. Slowly, the customs of the people and colloquialisms of the language became clear to me. Not only was I beginning to understand, but furthermore I found that the more I learned about the people of Hong Kong the more than I wanted to learn. I found their habits and culture to be very intriguing. I learned from experience that just because something was not fitted to the way that I was accustomed to have it be did not mean that it was by any means wrong. I learned that rarely did I ever truly dislike anything, but rather, I just did not understand it well enough yet.

I believe this principle of understanding can be applied in all aspects of life. I believe that there are many conflicts of war, problems of divorce, and even just simple arguments that could have been prevented if both parties were willing to be more understanding.