From Cutting Cactus Branches to Cutting Bamboo Shoots
When living and working cross-culturally, there are many things one doesn’t think about as far as how different life will be. For instance, last week, I learned that the bamboo in my courtyard was too tall, and that the leaves were falling into my neighbors’ upper deck of their house. Now, I have absolutely no experience with bamboo (other than owning some cool bamboo furniture when I lived in Java). I do have experience with cactus in my yard needing trimmed from when I lived in Arizona. This background knowledge helped me know what to do across the world with my unruly bamboo shoots. I got a saw and cut some of the bamboo and had my more experienced gardener help with the rest. Different contexts, similar issues.
I think in cross-cultural situations, we are sometimes more prepared than we think to deal with the different contextual issues which arise. Just because something looks completely different, doesn’t necessarily mean it is. Though our cultural upbringing might be different, some basic realities remain the same. For example:
1) We all want to be valued.
2) We want others to value what we value.
3) We want to be treated fairly.
There are other needs we share, universally. While the way of valuing someone, or showing we value what others value might look different, the root of the issues remains the same across the contexts. It’s part of our job, as cross-cultural workers, to figure out how to value others in the context where we are working and living. Sometimes it takes employing an “expert” to help us know the solution to a situation we have faced before, maybe in our home country’s context, but now might look different because of the context of where we currently work.
Questions for Reflection:
What are some cross-cultural issues you are dealing with currently?
Is the root issue something that you have experience with in a different context?
How do you apply what you know to this situation, as well as adjust to accommodate the context you live and work in presently?