Conversations For Our Future with Siyu Cao



Welcome to the tenth edition of Conversations For Our Future! This interview series forms part of our campaign to #BuildBridgesNotWalls, in which we strive to promote intercultural communication in university campuses across Asia, Europe and the United States. Conversations For Out Future showcases a diverse set of perspectives on intercultural communication. I’ll be asking each interviewee the same four questions:


  1. Does intercultural communication affect what you do? If so, how?

  2. How do you promote intercultural communication in your day-to-day life?

  3. What methods have you found successful in engaging with diverse perspectives?

  4. Why is building bridges, not walls, important to you?


My guest today is Siyu Cao, the designer behind the Tiny Eyes Comics: a webcomic series that explores the intricacies of Chinese culture. Siyu's comics demonstrate the power of visual arts in building bridges and encourage intercultural communication and understanding.

 
 

About Siyu Cao

Born and raised in Beijing, Siyu Cao is an independent creator currently living in Paris, drawing, writing and teaching. Since 2014, she has been drawing Tiny Eyes Comics — a webcomic that shares and explores Chinese culture through everyday stories, in the hope of building bridges and breaking cultural stereotypes. Her comics has been widely shared on the internet, and her first book « Débridée: Le monde vu par mes yeux chinois » was published in France in May 2019 by Editions des Equateurs.

 
 

Questions


Does intercultural communication affect what you do? If so, how?


Siyu: I’ve been living abroad for many years and intercultural communicating has always been an important part of my daily life. It helps me build better relationships with others, whether it’s friendship, romantic relationship, or professional relationship. For example, I worked as a designer in London, Beijing and Paris. Understanding the cultural differences helps me better navigate through my challenges in the workplace and improve the way I work with clients and my colleagues.

 
 

How do you promote intercultural communication in your day-to-day life?


Siyu: I’ve been drawing a series of webcomics called “Tiny Eyes Comics” for five years. I started it as a way to share Chinese culture and break stereotypes. I use visual storytelling to show a perspective that’s personal, fun, and human. My audience are from very diverse cultural background, and their comments on the comics naturally create a place for discussion. I also pay attention to small interactions I have with other people in everyday life, especially when there’s tension involved. Sometimes the tension is caused by differences, other times by misunderstanding. I try to understand what’s going on during these moments and have an open conversation with the other person.

 
 

What methods have you found successful in engaging with diverse perspectives?


Siyu: Asking open questions and listening. This sounds easy but is really hard. To do this, we need to create a space in which everyone feels safe and respected. To me, the first step is always being genuinely curious towards others, listening to their stories and beliefs, their problems and dreams, how they grew up, and where they are now. It may be completely different from your point of view and makes you uncomfortable in the beginning, but dealing with this discomfort is also the process of recognizing other perspectives and reflecting on your own. Often, I find that we are too eager to make a judgment when listening to others talk (or use it as a preparation to defend our point of view). When we judge the others, we are also putting them on the defensive. This type of attack-defend conversation often results in a battle instead of understanding.

 
 

Why is building bridges, not walls, important to you?


Siyu: Because we are all dependent on one another, and building bridges allow us to better coexist in this connected world.


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