Closer hearts through Understanding Cross Cultural Values and U.S Government Structure

YSEALI Fellowship Program on May 02, 2016. By: Bunchhoeun UT

May 02, 2016 is a beautiful day covering with sunshine and light for the whole day after a few cold days was covered by clouds and very cold wind. Moreover, after solidarity lunch yesterday (May 1) at Deena’s house between professional fellows and program coordinators as well as program organizers to introduce to each other and discussed the plan together for the next couple days. Today is a very honorable day that professional fellows had 4 quest speakers and instructors to introduce and orient about: 1) Introduction to U.S Government structure, by Professor Christopher Muste, Department of Political Science of UM, 2) Introduction to cross-cultural conception and contexts by Deena Professor and associate director, 3) Introduction to American Cultural Value by Dr. Tobin Shearer, Associate Professor of History of the UM, 4) Introduction of professional congress video project, by Kelsey, Program Manager.

In the morning, Professor Christopher Muste provided overview and brief of American history and colony since 1600 late 1700 by British. After that he moved to independent movement for religious freedom, economic purposes, manufacturing as well in countries situation between 1774 to 1781, consequently leading to creating American constitution in 1787.

Dr. Muste also provided an overview of U.S Government structure and dragged a discussion and emphasis on the balance of power between the legislative, judicial, and executive branches. In addition, He has explained about the tribal sovereignty and how tribes function as independent nations aligned with roles of NGOs and how NGOs work with U.S. Government. During the discussion, Dr. Muste explained that the 3 American branches divided in to differences power equally included Congress (House of Representatives and senate), President (executives) and Jurisdiction (supreme court).


In the congress of house of representatives consist of 435 members with 2 years mandate while there are only 100 members in the senate with 6 years mandate. In this branches, senate have more power than the House of Representative. When the congress proposed a law to senate, the senate have priority to check, edit, comments and change and then send it back to the house of representatives for further revision. When they have completed the revisions, the house need to send it back to senate again for review and further edition. The House don’t have power to send the proposed laws to presidents until there are agreement from senate. Moreover, if the proposed laws are agreed by senate, and the house send the law to U.S. president. There will be two different feedbacks from Presidents, negative or positive, regarding to the proposed law. If the laws are not agreed by Presidents, it will be further process as mentioned above.


US Presidents have two mandates in which per term is 4 years. President candidates are selected through agreement from individual party. It should be recalled that there are two political parties included democratic and republic political parties. President has executive branches who are working on all relevant duties. Role of presidents are to compromise, negotiation, talking and persuasions with others power branches and implementation of the law. For example, a new president in office is meant that majority of the senate members are from the president parties, therefore, when he proposes a law to the House of representatives, he also tried to compromise with senators in order to adopt the law. This is a simple way the United States President do.

Federal Supremacy:

The chief of supreme court would take the office for his whole life. He is a persons being believed no negative actions or corruptions. In case there are any abnormal activities regarding to the chief of the supreme court, the house of representative and senate have prioritized roles to conduct a special observation in order to see the reality and make decisions. There two court system which is under the supreme court which is allow the citizen of the US to go for suit before they will go to the supreme court there are District court is the lower level and then to circuit court.

Cross Cultural conceptions and contexts:

Deena is an associate professor, UM. She conducted an orientation on cross cultural conception and contexts to professional fellow YSEALI after Dr. Muste oriented about introduction to U.S. Government. Mrs. Deena clearly explained about the culture in U.S. she logically stated that understanding culture is similar or equal to iceberg theories as well. We speak, talk and communicate with each other in a short time, we just know and understand the outside behaviors but we don’t really understand deeply its core values at all. Some cultures that U.S. citizens committed such as being on time (no late), sitting spaces, direct communications (no metaphors) and face-to-face relationship (said what with your mind and feeling) are not familiar to our fellow countries situation. Food, language, clothes, and location are the outside things you can understand but values, traditions, beliefs and work ethic are required to have more time to be clearly understood.

Culture of Independence:

Deena said “in US Culture, independences are required for their children to practice. When her sons are getting age of 18 years, and he is still staying with her. She is not happy if sons are not independent”. This was reflected everyone in the program have to be independent and to understand diverse culture. In the meantime, individualism and collectivism are theories to be considered by the professional fellows as well because some persons have different perceptions according to the term. Individualism meant that each persons need to have individual achievements rather than collectivism and the values are placed on “I”. Collectivism focused on team or group achievements in which any decisions are made and involved by other persons and set to joint responsibilities. The values in the collectivism focused on “we”.

Deena emphasized that “being immersed in a new culture can be a very stressful experiences because everything is unfamiliar. For example, weather, landscape, language, food, and values as well as customs are what we considered culture that we couldn’t adapted easily without spending longer time with it. In addition, he stated that it is normal. Home sickness, depression and fatigue could occur for everyone, just some of those could be adapted quicker and some are hard to adapt. This meant it is normal everywhere and every time for everyone.

American Cultural Values

Dr.Tobin has started to bring the fellow to brainstorm what have they heard about the US before they come to the US. We have come up with many idea about what we heard about the US is a freedom, Multi culture, Democratic, Punctuation, people are very direct and so on. According to his presentation we have got an idea that the US is more focusing on the Collective and individual identities and come along with democratic and independent.

Introduction of the professional congress Video project:

Kelsey explained how and when the video is recorded and developed. She has also shown the sample video from the previous fellow. We will meet a video maker on Wednesday for processes of the video development. She also recommended that the team should discuss within the team members to focus on strategies and techniques of video clips which is not concentrated on selfies photos and any inactive pictures. Moreover, on May 16, the team will have a visit to yellow stones for further exploration to understand environment. During the meeting, members also provided some creative ideas.


During the meeting, I feel I have learnt a lot from all speakers regarding to U.S. Government structures and powers that lead me to emerge what I have reflected in my own countries. Political issues and political change would be a lessons learnt for my own knowledge. Multi cultural understanding and adaptation would lead me change more behaviors and pay attentions to my partners in daily activities communication as well as to know deeply the core values of behaviors between my team members and fellowship partners. Team works with diverse nations would make me explore more understanding the behaviors and perceptions of individualism and collectivism during the separate and joint activities in the program. This is very vital for me to build more communication and networks for further and effective cooperation in future.


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