Sunday, August 12, 2012

Culture Shock

After a summer spent living overseas, culture shock is setting in. For some reason, upon arrival, culture shock is not so bad, although I did experience a little then. But the return home is when it really begins to show.

Returning to my culture has at times felt like I am visiting this country for the first time. I marvel at this because I have not ventured too far yet for knowing how difficult it could be for my heart. I know too well what I will see, and I am not sure what effect it will have yet, being so recently returned from a place so different.

Culture shock is the shock of experiencing a different culture and ways of living. It is seeing blunt truth and grim reality without the rose colored spectacles, or the dull vision of one who views the same things every day. Suddenly, sharp and clear things stand out that before were not noticed or were blurred by the fact that it is so every day to us. Things that made sense before are suddenly shown to be completely wrong or absolutely ridiculous in light of experiences felt or seen in other places.

Suddenly, the woman standing in front of me demanding a drink to be made very specially despite being told it would require extra and unavailable service is even more noticeable than before when I remember the woman who came and picked crusts off our plates to eat for her supper.

Suddenly the over commercialism of our lives is too much and sickening when I remember the children whose parents live in something we would not consider keeping our pampered pets in, and who have no running water. And yet they gave us the little they had.

Culture shock is sitting on the porch, eating a meal and realizing it was cooked over an open fire, made from the chickens running in the yard, from hands who work to just make a way to eat. Culture shock is eating in a restaurant and beggars coming and asking for the leftover scraps of food from your plate, to make their meal from. Culture shock is watching a man pick food from a garbage.

Culture shock is a restaurant at home where children whine that they don't like what is before them, they want something else instead. My heart turns sick because I have seen skinny kids who are glad to have just one hot meal a day.

Culture shock is beginning for me. I have seen and lived in another place too long to take it lightly when I return to my own country. It is challenging. It is difficult. And I do not want it to dull. I do not want to become blind again, vision blurred by the fact that I see these ridiculous attitudes and ways of living every day. Better to remember and learn and grow in gratefulness and generosity. Better to let the culture shock me and change me for the better so I can in turn change the culture.

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