Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the Immigration Policy Center at the American Immigration Council,...
Chairy Saidjan Embraces American Culture
The Exchange Visitor Program is pleased to announce Chairy Saidjan as March's Exchange Visitor of the Month. Each month, we select an exchange visitor who has made an effort to get involved in his/her community and explore American Culture.
Chairy Saidjan, 43 of Jakarta, Indonesia, interns/trains as an exchange visitor for the Kauffman Foundation, a non-profit that studies the powerful economic impact of entrepreneurship, in Kansas City, Missouri. In anticipation of his arrival, Chairy eagerly studied U.S. demography and geography to better acquaint himself with the cultural and physical American landscape-a little bit of research that goes a long way in understanding American entrepreneurship.
A key factor in understanding how Americans run businesses is learning more about the cultural nuances that, in part, frame business practices. Chairy makes it a priority to get out and explore American culture by visiting various cities, libraries and art museums-like the Kansas City Sculpture Park.
"Without outside activities like visiting museums," Chairy said, "we would learn only entrepreneurship and not American entrepreneurship. We can not understand American entrepreneurship well without knowing American culture."
Chairy's cultural tour includes the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Truman Presidential Museum and Library, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Ewing & Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden, as well as the Kansas City Art Institute. Chairy, who has also visited Boston and San Francisco, finds Kansas City's cultural heritage just as rich and the people equally friendly. In addition to exploring American culture, Chairy also enjoys sharing his culture with friends and colleagues.
"My friend from the UK, Peter, likes the "Batik" shirt I usually wear day-to-day at the Kauffman Foundation." Chairy said. "I explained to him the history and cultural aspects of the Indonesian style of "Batik." Another friend asked me to teach him some simple Bahasa-Indonesian expressions like apa khabar (How are you doing?) and sampai jumpa lagi (See you later.). So our cultural differences actually make our friendship closer."
Embracing American culture doesn't always have to be physical-although it doesn't hurt to hug some art every once in a while. Exploring American culture could be as simple as visiting your local library, teaching your colleagues and friends about your home or just asking your friends questions over lunch.