My Aramco Story: A chance to compare and celebrate cultures in Japan
For Mohammad A. Alghamdi, a dream assignment proved to be better than he bargained for.
I had always wanted to visit Japan to see the people and culture, so it was like a dream come true in 2019 when my supervisor told me I had been nominated to go to Japan with a team to learn more about Japanese technologies and best practices.
To prepare for the big trip, I immediately began reading more about Japanese culture and history. By the time the big day came and I arrived at the airport, I was more than ready to begin learning in earnest about the island nation as it is today. When we arrived at the airport, the sponsoring company representative were there waiting for us to explain the trip and the program, providing details down to the hour for every activity in which we would be involved.
Our learning began in the classroom as we attended lectures and meetings to discuss the program objectives. Also, we were given the chance to share our thoughts on the program. Everything was going so well, and that was even before we began daily visits to a variety of plants and companies. On the weekend, the team was even brought to an island and a tourist site.
One day, when we were visiting the Hiroshima dome site, the guide noted how comfortable we seemed with the exact and precise nature of the trips, noting that Japanese people are very disciplined. I responded that he was right, but that the reason we were so comfortable was that we were more like the Japanese than themselves.
The guide spun around surprised, asking me to explain how this was.
I shared with him how Saudis pray five times daily and at a very specific time. I also shared with him that we have a purification process that every member of the family undertakes – from young school children to elderly parents – in a very specific way.
He listened intently, never interrupting. I went on to speak about the Holy Month of Ramadan and how every Saudi participated, with the only exception being those who were exempt for medical reasons. He listened to me explain how we all fasted between 14 and 18 hours a day from food and drink, and that we weren’t even allowed to say inappropriate words or act in any way unbecoming.
“This is a true Samurai,” he said with a laugh. We shared a smile, happy to have shared our cultures with one another.