Monday, September 12, 2011

Differences in Global Living

Differences in Global Living

Contemporary World Culture

Life Expectancy 2007 Estimates CIA World Factbook
Life Expectancy 2007 Estimates CIA World Factbook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Globalization is characterized by global technological advancements and the “increasingly interconnected world and economic globalization” (Johnson, p. 10). According to June Johnson, author of Global Issues, Local Arguments, perspectives on globalization are often based on demographics such as where a person is from, where they currently live, their age, race, social class, etc. (p. 10). There are a multitude of differences between those who live in industrialized nations and those who reside in third world countries. Some of those differences are positive while some are negative. Some times the differences are simply differences.
Moving forward in time lives will transform with the environment around us. Some will improve while others have the possibility of remaining the same or degrading on some level. Looking at these differences and understanding them is a better way for everyone to understand global culture and globalization as a whole. There are many examples to chose from. We will discuss the differences between a Chinese farmer, a US software engineer, and an African parent in the year 2006. We will also speculate, with some researched substantiation, what life would be like for each of these individuals in fifty years time in the year 2056.

2006: Life as a Chinese FarmerAs a Chinese farmer in 2006, my family and I do not have many luxuries in life. We live a meager way of life - my seven children, my wife, and I. We have a small plot of land we grow crops on and raise a few sheep, a few chickens, and two goats. My wife’s parents and my mother reside with us, which is common for our culture (Oracle ThinkQuest Education Foundation).

My family and I live in the western part of China, where farms are more common. The closest major city is many week’s walk away, and many hours by motor vehicle if we should be so lucky. Our food we grow ourselves. We also have livestock and crops to trade at the local market for other necessities, like clothing and blankets. We also have sheep in order to get wool to trade for these items. Our household items consist of a few blankets to sleep with and a few pots to cook our food in over a fire (Oracle ThinkQuest Education Foundation).
Each day we get up just before dawn, myself and our oldest five children. We begin feeding the livestock and prepare ourselves for the days work. My wife stays inside with the two youngest children, tending to them and to the needs just outside the home. My children and I begin to work on the fields, ensuring that the crops are doing well and that there are no animals or pests destroying them. We work from dawn until dusk, which is when we first eat for the day. There is not much food to go around, so my wife and I eat once a day, while the children eat in the morning and in the evening. Our main staple is rice, but we also have eggs from the chickens and any rabbits we may find on our land (Oracle ThinkQuest Education Foundation). There is no time for entertainment most days. But when we do have time to celebrate we sing and draw pictures in the ground. We tell stories of legends and our ancestors, passing along the knowledge that we have. Our entertainment is very local to our people. We would like our children to get an education, but we are not educated ourselves and are too poor to send our children to a real Chinese school where they can learn to read and write (Oracle ThinkQuest Education Foundation).

United (States) Parcel Service.
United (States) Parcel Service. (Photo credit: matt.hintsa)

As a farmer in China, my greatest worry is ensuring there are enough supplies for basic needs to take care of my family. Making sure there is enough food for everyone and hoping that no one falls ill, because we cannot afford a doctor and the nearest one is very far away. Another fear is that of natural disaster. If there is a natural disaster, such as torrential rains, then the crops we harvest will be ruined and my family will have no way to eat or purchase other items we need. One immediate concern is the increased popularity of the Chinese lanterns which are a great threat to our crops and our livestock. Many livestock have eaten the casings for these lanterns which are ignited for celebrations. This has resulted in their death and ultimately is our loss. Also, wires from these lanterns have caused injuries to livestock, and some deaths as well. (Lavigueur).

2056: Life as a Chinese Farmer

Looking forward 50 years to the year 2056, life as a Chinese farmer will not change much. Given the strength of the Chinese government and economy, they are becoming a very strong global power. Some speculate that China may one day be THE world power, growing past the reach of the US (Johnson). However, looking at the facts we know now and not speculating too much, the life of a Chinese farmer will change minimally. Likely, as a Chinese farmer I would not live much beyond 50 years. The life expectancy in China for a healthy male is 72.54 years (IndexMundi). For a farmer, the daily risks we encounter are much greater than those of higher social classes. My children have grown and married and my wife and I have 41 grandchildren. Our food source would remain much the same, eating primarily rice, eggs, and chickens. As we have gotten older, my wife and I are not able to keep the farm running on our own. Our oldest son has taken over the family farm and now provides for us, as is common in our culture (Oracle ThinkQuest Education Foundation). We help out as much as possible, but at our age it is difficult to farm like we use to. My wife and I are still able to take food from our farm to the market to trade for other goods, such as cloth and bowls that are needed. Our entertainment has not changed much. We still tell stories and sing songs. Our grandchildren entertain us the most. At this point in our lives, there are no great worries. Life has been good and to live until we are 70 years old is a great accomplishment.

2006: Life as a US Software Engineer

As a software engineer living in Seattle, Washington in 2006, I live a comfortable life. My family consists of my wife and our two children. My ancestors moved to the United States in the early 1900’s when many migrated from Western Europe. As an Irish family, my ancestors struggled to gain any ground on their adjustment to the “land of opportunity.” As true with many immigrants, to my ancestors “Ellis Island was seen as a symbol of hope and opportunity for millions of immigrants” (DeWan). My family moved from the east coast to Seattle just after World War II in search of more opportunities.

An ordinary day involves my wife and I getting up each morning and preparing to go to work. Our children get ready for school, eat their breakfast, and catch the bus for school. My wife and I leave at the same time and head to work. Since I work as a software engineer, I spend most of my time using mental energy rather than physical energy. After work I head to the gym then head home. We have dinner as a family and then relax with a movie or television show before bed.

Generally speaking, we eat local foods daily. Asian food and fish, such as salmon, are common to our area. Japanese barbeque is also very popular in our area and is a family favorite (Food Notes). Seattle is not only a melting pot of different cultures from across the world, but also a melting pot of different styles of food. Japanese, Korean, Italian, German, Moldovan, and Mexican foods are just some of the popular restaurants in the area (Food Notes). In order to provide products for our daily needs, we get in our family vehicle and drive to the local Fred Meyer or Costco. Here we can purchase any item such as food, cleaning supplies, electronics, etc. that we may need or want. Fred Meyer is very available in our area, as it is part of “one of the largest multi-regional supermarket retailers with $15 billion in sales” (Boley). For entertainment my family often watches movies either at home or in the movie theater. We also attend concerts and sporting games, especially when the Seahawks are playing. Our forms of entertainment are very local. Not only do we watch many home games in Seattle, but we also watch mainstream movies that are common within the United States and western culture. College football is also very popular in our area, with the University of Washington Huskies often pitted against the Washington State University Cougars (Leonard). Another form of local entertainment is what our Pacific Science Center has to offer. There are often galactical presentations which are educational and interesting, as well as laser shows to modern and older styles of music. And for those who enjoy outside activities, there is always hiking, skiing, or snowboarding in the mountains, depending on the time of year (Leonard). They don’t call it the Evergreen State for nothing.

My greatest worry is finding myself unemployed. My two children are getting older and are in need of braces, school supplies, and eventually college tuition. Even though we have accumulated a modest savings, the economy is still in a rut and layoffs are always possible. In 2009, the unemployment rate was 7.2% and rising (Kearsley). Many politicians desire to increase taxes to fund programming, but many families are already stretched thin. The state of our economy is also concerning. Hopefully my job is secure enough for the time being.
2056: Life as a US Software Engineer

As a US software engineer in 2056, life is quite different. According to the CDC, I am likely to live until I am 77.9 years of age. Due to the increased medical technology in the US, as well as 50 years of research, I have been able to overcome and manage multiple age related ailments. I retired after a thirty year career as a software engineer and my wife and I live in Washington in the summer and Arizona in the winter. Our two children both went to college and one has a master’s degree. We have three grandchildren total.

We continue to eat the same local foods except for salmon. They have been over-fished so they are now extinct. They were an endangered species 50 years ago (US Fish and Wildlife Service) and people continued to ignore the risks to the species. We also continue to shop at the major local stores for our household items. In regards to entertainment, we tend to relax much more than we use to. My wife and I take long trips and spend our summers in Scottsdale, Arizona, where I golf and my wife gardens at our summer home.

At this point in our lives, my greatest concern is the future of my grandchildren. They are growing up in a changing world and I cannot protect them. Crime is always on the rise, as it was when my children were growing up. The presence of drugs and violence are increasing and impact youth in suburbia at an increasing rate. According to the Seattle Police Department’s crime statistics, in 2009 major crimes such as aggravated assault, robbery, and burglary rose. In total, the city of Seattle saw an increase of 12% in violent crimes and 7% in property crimes increase. Crime continued to get worse as the Great Recession carried on for many more years after these statistics were calculated.

2006: Life as an African Parent

As a parent living in Eritrea in the eastern part of Africa in the year 2006, life is often tiring and stressful. My wife and I have eight children ranging from ages newborn to twelve years old. We live in a modest hut near the edge of our village located in the Northern Red Sea sub-region. We married early and I now work as a fisherman to support our family. I trade some of the fish I catch in our village for vegetables and cloth in order to supply the family with other necessities (BBC).

In a typical day, I get up just before sunrise and head down to the Red Sea to meet by brothers and brother in-laws to begin our fishing for the day. My wife gets up at the same time and begins tending to the children. Once they are up, they pick berries and tend to other plants in our small vegetable garden. We eat primarily fish and vegetables, with some local berries that are available during some months of the year. They also go down to our local water source to replenish the buckets of water we have outside of our home. In regards to entertainment, we sing songs that are common to our culture and swim in the sea when fishing is done. Our family gets together with members of our extended family and together we have a feast. Our form of entertainment is definitely local, as we have very little technology in our part of the world, specifically our part of the country (BBC).

There are ongoing concerns about ethnic cleansing that is not targeted at my family directly; however it does impact us as we can often are caught in the crossfire. Those who are targeted for ethnic cleansing are the “Eritrean Red Sea Afars, an ethnic minority in with a nomadic life style” that are convinced the Eritrean government is behind the effort to exterminate them (Tekle). The Afars live south of my family in an area that is highly valuable in strategy for defense for the country as well as economic amenities (Tekle).

In addition to the internal conflict, Eritrea is constantly forced to protect its borders and waters from outside intruders. Most recently Yemen fishermen were captured while in Eritrean water territory. The Yemen foreign minister coordinated their release with President Isayas Afewerki and the Eritrean government (BBC). The water is a valuable resource to Eritrea and it must be protected as much as the land.

Although there are many struggles my family and I endure, the most imminent concern is whether or not we have enough food for everyone. We have lost three of our children already to disease and lack of resources. Last year there was a shortage of food; however this year is much worse (BBC). Food aid is not available to us this year so we will be reliant on what we can grow, trade, and fish for.

As our children get older, we worry about the widespread AIDS epidemic. In Eritrea, the region in which my family lives, the Northern Red Sea region, has the highest growth rate for AIDS in all of Eritrea (BBC). My wife and I have been fortunate enough to have not contracted the virus, but as our children marry (some in a few years) we worry that they might find themselves with this disease. If they contract the disease, then so will our grandchildren. This will impact our family line and has the potential to eliminate our family tree.

2056: Life as an African Parent

As a parent in Eritrea, I would not live to 2056. Life expectancy in Eritrea is 62.1 years however there are many intervening variables that have caused my life to end early (Infoplease). The continuing genocide has killed of a large portion of my family. I have been killed as well as five of my children. My wife and three children are all that remain. My wife is getting older and is barely able to take care of herself. She has few years left. My oldest living son takes care of my wife. He is a local business man who has managed to obtain a modest education and has opened up a general store in our village. He does not typically trade currency for his goods, but rather he barters goods.

The food has remained the same. Primarily fish and local crops are what feed the remainder of my family. My son’s store has managed to fulfill the needs for household goods for our family. Entertainment is the same, shown through dance and song. Often times there are stories that are told to entertainment the young children.

My greatest worry is the well-being of what is left of my family. The violence and disease has killed off over half of my family and my goal is that the remaining three children in my immediate family, and their children, continue to obtain education and help the region move away from violent conflicts as well as learn more about disease prevention. In regards to disease prevention, HIV/AIDS has continued to increase over a portion of the last fifty years. Through education and available preventative measures, such as free condoms, there has been a steady decline in the last decade of new reported cases. In 2009, only 20% of those infected were aware of their health status (Bunnell, Mermin, and De Cock). Now, with increased socially acceptable discussion and readily available education, that number has increased. This is a good sign as it shows that the availability for testing rose and many wish to know the results. It is becoming more acceptable in the Eritrean culture to speak about how AIDS is spread, how to prevent it, and what to do once you have been diagnosed. This spread of knowledge is helping Eritreans take better control of their health. Although it seems that Eritrea is getting a handle on prevention of HIV spreading, there is still a long way to go.


Looking at each individual, although fictional, the descriptions display some level of accuracy in the way people live in different parts of the world. First look at the Chinese farmer first. The farmer lives a simply life with family and a small parcel of land to tend to. Globalization has not change the life of these farmers very much on a daily level. More products will be available for them to barter for at the market and their grandchildren have a higher likelihood of attending school one day. But in this generation, there are not that many changes in social aspects. Consumerism is at its peak in the American culture. People have continued to obtain desired products at their will, and this example is no exception. The software engineer has provided for his family any material good they would need or want. They have become prime capitalist consumers of the world.

As the US software engineer, life has changed dramatically. Globalization has permitted this worker to maintain employment and become quite successful. He has overcome many medical ailments and has a thriving family. He now vacations and lives a comfortable retired lifestyle. The spread of technology has permitted his job security over the course of time discussed and has enabled him to live the “American dream.”

The Eritrean parent has many struggles. Due to the volatile nature of that region, their struggles may easily improve or worsen. In regards to the disease prevention, specifically with HIV/AIDS, Eritrea improves due the spread of education and knowledge that will help minimize the spread and educate those who are at risk. In this aspect, life is better for those impacted. In regards to the violence, it is impossible to tell if there will be peace. Based on history, it is not likely any time soon and will not contribute to the wellbeing of the Eritrean people. Due to the violence, many will continue to immigrate to developed nations, such as the US and Canada.

References:Boley, Rob.  (7  November). Fred Meyer, Quality Food Centers, and Ralphs GroceryCompany combine to create one of the largest multi-regional supermarket retailers with $15 billion in sales. PR Newswire,1.  Retrieved October 24, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand.Bunnell, Rebecca, Jonathan Mermin, and Kevin M. De Cock. “HIV Prevention for aThreatened Continent: Implementing Positive Prevention in Africa.” April 22, 2009. Internet: <>.
CDC. “Life Expectancy.” FastStats: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Internet: <>.DeWan, George. STAFF WRITER. (1999, January 26). Looking Back / The Century1900 to 1910 / A Nation on the Go / In planes. In cars. And on steamships headed for Ellis Island. Series: Looking Back. The Century 1900 to 1910. As the 20th Century fades into history, here is the first of an occasional series that looks back, decade by decade, at the events and personalities of the 1900s :[ALL EDITIONS]. Newsday (Combined Editions), p. B06. Retrieved October 23, 2010, from Newsday.Digest of reports from Eritrea's Hadas Eritrea newspaper of 13 October. (15  October2010). BBC Monitoring Africa. Retrieved October 27, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand.
Eritrea denies being hit by famine, starvation.” (16 October 2010). BBC Monitoring
Africa. Retrieved October 27, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand.Eritrea releases 68 Yemeni fishermen.” (19  October 2010). BBC Monitoring Middle East. Retrieved October 27, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand.FOOD NOTES :[FINAL Edition]. (1993, January 20). Seattle Post - Intelligencer,p. c3.Retrieved October 23, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand.FOOD NOTES :[FINAL Edition]. (1993, November 17). Seattle Post –
Intelligencer,p. C4.  Retrieved October 24, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand.IndexMundi. “China Life Expectancy at Birth.” CIA World Factbook. Internet:
Infoplease. “Eritrea: History, Geography, and Culture.” Internet:<>.
Johnson, June. Global Issues, Local Arguments: Readings for Writing. New York:
Custom Publishing, 2007.Kearsley, Kelly. (2009, February 25). State jobless numbers still climbing. The NewsTribune,A.1. Retrieved October 22, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand.Lavigueur, Nick. (2010, July 3). “Farmers demand ban on Chinese lanterns :Livestockinjured by wires and fire risk to crops.” Huddersfield Daily Examiner,27. Retrieved October 17, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand.Leonard, Tara. (18 March). This Week's Arts and Entertainment Guide / Coming Up.McClatchy - Tribune Business News. Retrieved October 24, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand.Oracle ThinkQuest Education Foundation. “Destiny: The Culture of China Living andValues.” Internet: <>.
Oracle ThinkQuest Education Foundation. “Destiny: The Culture of China Music.”Internet: <>.
Seattle Police Department. “2009 Crime Statistics.” Internet:<>.
Tekle, Tesfa-Alem Tekle.  (24  October 2010). Eritrea's exiled Afar opposition deny theyintend to secede. McClatchy - Tribune Business News, Retrieved October 27, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand.
US Fish and Wildlife Service. “Pacific Salmon (Endangered Species).”
Internet: <>.