Friday, September 15, 2006

Culture Shock

One of my most memorable courses in college was Intercultural Communication. It was taught by an eccentric Native American who had a unique way of getting you to see your own cultural biases when compared to a culture different from your own. The thing I took away from this experience was accepting the importance of culture in creating a sustainable way of life. Culture includes the rules we follow each day with out even thinking about them. I interact with women everyday that wear jewlery of some kind. Piercings are common, so much so that I could not tell you what earrings my wife had in last night. But had she come home with a plate in her lip, like the Mursi of Ethiopia, it would have made a huge impression. The reason is because it goes against our cultural rules. Earring, OK. Lip Plate, not so much. We need culture to help us save time in decision making. I got up this morning and put on cargo shorts and a polo. I didn't have to think, "should I wear a loin cloth, or a towel or the ever popular modesty gourd." The food I choose to eat fits into a cultural category, as does most every other part of my day. While I've never experienced it quite like my friends who have lived for an extended period of time in a country outside their culture of origin, I am familiar with the idea of culture shock. It is an upsetting experience. Nothing is familiar anymore. People around you don't speak your language. You get stared at. You're not quite sure how to act. It helps me to process this drastic season of personal, career, and spiritual change in such terms. I have left my country of origin, which is the church as we know it, to make my home in a new culture and see if the Kingdom can be advanced with in it. All I have right now is what was left behind. I have no experience in this new culture we are trying to create. I can remember how things were and compare them to how things are. This is the nature of many of my posts. Thanks for reading and commenting. It helps me more than you know.

No comments: