Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Three months. Three months that felt like a lifetime. Three months that felt like the blink of an eye. I have learned so much during this semester in Brazil: things about culture, things about myself, things about relationships, and spiritual things. This trip has been the experience of a lifetime. While there were things that I wanted to change, things I wished could be different, and times when I just wanted it all to be over, I wouldn’t change it or take it back for the world. I have learned so much on this trip, and even though I am looking forward to going home, I am also sad about leaving. I am going to miss the people, the culture, the language; I will miss Brazil. I am so thankful to have been able to have this experience.
Stay with God. Fiquem com Deus.
Monday, May 9, 2011
“Drink it in…”
When faced with any situation in life you can do one of two things. You can reject it, or embrace it. The same goes with entering a cultural situation. You can either learn to accept the culture and its differences and similarities, or you can reject it and simply let the culture pass around you. There are a lot of things that you can “experience” in a culture that will be unique and adventurous. You can spend months at a time doing a bunch of activities. But is this really embracing and learning another culture? Writing a “compare and contrast” list of two cultures is simple and you don’t even need to go to another culture to accomplish that. But finding ways to make another culture relevant in your own life and letting it change you for the better is a completely different task.
Our culture is what builds our identity, our worldview, and what ultimately shapes us into the person we choose to become. It’s natural to not want to instantly let a new culture change us, break us, and reshape us. It’s scary and confusing when a new culture is bearing down on you from every side. We have to get used to the culture. We need to find out what the culture is all about and understand why things are how they are. But there will come a time where we can gain no further understanding and have to choose whether or not to let ourselves become a part of that culture.
We can either “take a shower” in culture, or “drink it in”. We can “take a shower” and let culture flow over and around us and experience it for a little while. Then, when we reach the point of decision we simply “dry ourselves off” and “wipe it all away”. Or we can “drink it in”. We can fully embrace culture, incorporate it into our lives. We can let it become a part of who we are and what we do by actively participating in culture and investing ourselves into the culture.
We may be able to observe cultural proceedings from an outside perspective. But, culture itself lives in people. Without people culture has no vehicle with which to exist. So the question we have to ask ourselves when we enter a new culture is, “do we want to be a lasting part of that vehicle?” The answer to this question will determine how another culture affects us and how much we’ll gain from being in another culture.
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Although my time in Brazil will be coming to an end within the next week, I know the things that I have taken from this experience will not. Through this wonderful opportunity to study abroad, I have not only learned more about the world around me, but about myself as a person as well. Through the three months I have lived in Brazil, I have learned what it truly means to sacrifice what I want and desire for the sake of serving God. In coming to this country, I had to give up my own selfish desires of wishing things could be different, wishing time could be shorter, wishing things to be easy, to realize every part of this experience is for God. My host family demonstrated the example of sacrifice to me many times during the three months I have lived with them. They did not have to take a random American student into their home, who did not know their language or their customs (and I’m sure made a fool of herself while trying to learn). They did not have to take money out of their own pocket in order for me to stay here, or take me places around the community in order to relate me with the culture. However, they did do all these things, and did so for the sacrifice of serving God and demonstrating His love. This is just one of the many things I have learned while living in the country of Brazil, and I cannot wait to take it back and apply it to my life in America. After all, life is a journey that is made up of many different roads with many stops and lessons learned along the way. May 13th is the end of my Brazilian road; however, it is only the beginning of the rest of my life.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
For the past 3 months, I have been dealing with the challenges of facing a different culture. I am excited to be headed home soon, but I've come to the realization that going home will be an interesting experience as well. I conquered culture shock here, but what about culture shock when I get home. I have changed. I am a different person than I was 3 months ago. I am going to back to what is familiar and comfortable to me, but I will view things through a different set of eyes. There will be some things about my own culture that I will notice for the first time, and I may or may not agree with them. My Brazil experience does not end next Saturday when I step off the plane in Columbus, I will continue to learn and apply this semester to every aspect of life.
That brings me to the question: what about this culture do I want to bring back home with me? There are things and behaviors here I don't agree with, and there are also some I think are very positive. My American culture could benefit from some things Brazilians do. Of course, I can not list them all here, but I have been asking myself what positive things I have seen and experienced here would help me and others back at home. One example is a more group-oriented way of life. Family and community is very highly valued here. I hope I have allowed all the positive things of Brazil to be instilled in my life so they will come out.
........... and then there's Kevin
Friday, April 29, 2011
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Our most recent topic of discussion in our classes here has been cultural intelligence. When I first heard of the term I figured that it would be easily lost in among all of the culture of Brazil and classes that I have taken. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Cultural Intelligence (or C.Q. as is labeled by our book) is a term that is used to describe one’s cultural I.Q. or ability to survive, interact, and thrive in any given culture. We have been discussing that each and every person should develop some form of a C.Q. because it isn’t something that you are born with. The only way to really challenge your C.Q is to put yourself in new cultural situations. Seeing that we are most comfortable in our own culture and that new cultures or experiences are scary or hard to understand, it is easy to see why cultural intelligence is a skill that is developed over time. Our text has also described that our once “small world” is in fact becoming even smaller. Globalization, transportation, and technology effectively create new paths and connections between different cultures on a consistent basis. In short, a day is coming where your cultural intelligence is tested. How will you score?
I encourage you to research another culture, brush up on your high school Spanish, or get to know your newly immigrated neighbors or coworkers. Culture is a big part of why you do the things you do. To better understand the quickly changing world around you, learn about culture and test your C.Q.
Thanks for the prayers,