Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Thinking about 'home'

When I say I am thinking about 'home', I say that because 'home' assignment is just around the corner.  Why am I thinking about home? Not because I am homesick, although I will admit I will richly enjoy sitting across the table from my mom and chatting.  Not to mention seeing many dear sweet friends.  We have had the kiddos come visit, twice plus both of my brothers and one of Ernie's, plus a host of other guests. Bunny trail ... ...

The reason for my thoughts about heading back to Canada for three months is because of the whole reentry process.  Yes, I am 100% Canadian, and am reminded of that often while living here.  Yet, at the same time, I have acculturated.  When I notice it, I am shocked.  Let  me give you an example:  When my brothers and their wives came to visit us, I saw the disparity in myself.  We were making plans for the day, to head into Vallarta for the afternoon.  We decided on 2 and we would eat there.  This is where the thinking like a Mexican or like a Canadian happened:

Them: They ate lunch at the resort prior to leaving, thinking about supper there.
Us: Did not eat as lunch is between 2-4 in Mexico.  Eating there meant lunch, not supper.  

We solved the problem with a snack and a late Mexican lunch / Canadian Supper.  Which was great by the way!

There were a few other things that happened during our time together, and that happen when Canadian guests come, that make me realize that we have moved in our thinking.  We have become culturally sensitive and have adapted.  

So, returning to Canada brings some thoughts of how often will I make the reverse error?  Will I be culturally sensitive or even aware while there?  

I have done some research on Cultural Intelligence and it has been eye opening.  There is no test to measure this intelligence, because it can, and should, improve and develop throughout our lifetime.  There is some difficulty in acquiring it but one can, through life experiences, and by knowledge, acquired through trusted friends.  I thank God for granting me some very good ones who have done {and continue to} a good job.

The thing that is huge in this whole area is the idea of core and flex

"Our core comprises the things that define us: our own personal 'change? over my dead body!' list.  These are things that won't change (or won't change easily). Their solidarity is our strength.  In our Flex are things that we can choose to change - things that we can adapt to circumstances, or to other people, or to other cultures.  Their fluidity is our strength."  (http://commonpurpose.org/knowledge-hub/all-articles/what-is-cultural-intelligence/)  
This whole core and flex thing has been eye opening for us.  What things lie where? What things should lie where? Are there 'knots' in our core that should not be there? Think biases, think prejudices. 

I have noticed that some things are in my flex and have thus been easily modified for life in my hosting culture.  I have similarly notice that there are some things in my core that I firmly believe need to stay there but others that I am not sure where they belong.  This is the ongoing challenge.  Not only for living abroad but on returning 'home'.  

With our world becoming more multi-cultural this is an intelligence that will be more and more needed.  My home town of Steinbach is not longer just one or two ethnic groups but has grown to incorporate 10,000 villages! I challenge you to look at your core AND your flex.  

Here is a TedTalk regarding this topic that was very inspiring for me:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izeiRjUMau4










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