For the most part in American culture, intellectual struggle in school children is seen as an indicator of weakness, while in Eastern cultures it is not only tolerated, it is often used to measure emotional strength.
"The idea of intelligence is believed in the West as a cause," Li explains. "She is telling him that there is something in him, in his mind, that enables him to do what he does."
But in many Asian cultures, Li says, academic excellence isn't linked with intelligence in the same way. "It resides in what they do, but not who they are, what they're born with," she says.