Posted by: Jace O'Mallan | January 12, 2010

Culture Shock: Island Boy to Business Man

I remember the first time coming to Reno, Nevada for my first year at the university, a young and anxious kid awaiting the adventures of college life. It was the first time living by myself without the worries and and pains of parental control. I was free to roam this unknown territory and experience the glamour of “The Biggest Little City in the World”. It was no Vegas, but it was interesting and very different from what I’ve been used to back home. You see, I come from a tiny little island called Guam, a U.S. territory halfway around the world from Reno and what I felt was light years away. So coming to the mainland, hundreds of miles away from the nearest beach, was a culture shock for me. Little did I know that the change in atmosphere and climate would end up growing on me.

Over the week, I was able to meet new friends from areas around here and from other states as well. I had somewhat of an accent, so of course my new buddies would make fun of the way I pronounced my words and stumbled across others unfamiliar to me. It was something that annoyed me at first, but thinking about it today, I realized that my differences was what made me who I am and that is something I should embrace instead of trying to get rid of entirely. I brought to Reno my own set of cultural values and ideals that many seemed very interested to learn more about. I soon learned that the hospitality I received here was similar to that back home. Another thing I noticed was that not many of my friends were as close to their family as I was with mine. I value family very much, and that is something taught to us as kids growing up on the island, family always comes first.

As a business major, I intend to bring my ideals and values on culture taught to me as a kid so that others may benefit from my cultural differences, just as much as I will benefit from others’ as well. This goes back to my post on diversity and how it is important in organizations. Diversity is about learning from others with different values and culture. To have dignity and respect for all, to create workplace environments and practices that encourage learning from others, and to capture the advantage of diverse perspectives are all important in organizations if they intend to be successful. Just like I intend to use my cultural differences to succeed in future business endeavors.



  1. Jace, I can completely relate. I had same issues at first – my accent, my views, and my attitude. But all those things make me who I am. I adopted and accepted lots of things but I have not changed fundamentally because I believe that the more diversity is out there the more interesting this world is.
    Great post!

    • Thanks Asta. Our cultural beliefs and values are what make us. And I agree that it is something we all need to embrace and never feel ashamed of.

  2. Thanks for sharing the gift of your story about what it was like to experience moving to Reno as seen through the eyes of an “Island Boy.” I totally embrace your thoughts about diversity being about learning from others with different values and culture. Being a young man who brings his own unique set of cultural and family values is a big part of what makes you special! 🙂

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment. Your courtesy and hospitality are the reasons why I love Reno so much as compared to other cities I have visited before.

  3. […] can relate to my previous posts about ethics, diversity, honesty, attitude, and culture as well. Each and every on of these characteristics are important when it comes to differentiating […]

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