The Delp Details

Monday, August 06, 2012

A Reflection on Culture Shock-Part 1

I actually wrote this a couple of weeks ago sitting in the Miami airport after arriving from Ecuador.  I realize I will probably have a lot more to share about the culture shock when we come back to the States for a year starting in October or November.
      Written July 21, 2012
      When you've been out of the States for a while, it doesn't even have to be a long while, just awhile, you realize the rest of the world is just a little different than you left it.  To me, that's not always a bad thing.  One of the 1st things I realized on the plane actually from Ecuador to Miami is how different kids are-small, medium, or large kids seemed to have a bit of an aura of entitlement.  To see a teenager without a cell phone is a rarity, to see them not on it is even more rare.
To shift gears just a little bit, in the airport in Quito, there was a very large american group-a hiking group I think that took up at least half a gate, waiting.  I preface this by saying that although I had issues with this group which I will talk about later, this group because of its size and the fact that they were behind me in line, helped me get on the plane which I otherwise would have missed. However, the main thing I noticed, besides the shear loudness of the group, is the disrespect for the culture.  I would have liked to explain that what was going on was cultural, just let it go.  But they were being so disrespectful and it just wasn't OK to me.  I wish one of the adults with them would have explained this to them, but no one said anything.  They just let them keep going on and on.  It's just sad.
So, aside from being able to flush toilet paper, the 1st thing I noticed was the outrageous cost of food!  I bought a typical american Chinese dish that in Ecuador would cost $3-$4 and in the Miami airport was $11!!!!!  WOW!
The next thing I noticed was that everyone had a techy thing-a cell phone, a tablet, IPAD, IPOD, something, and everyone was using it.  They may have had small kids, young kids, big kids or no kids.  But I couldn't help but notice how distracted they were with the technology, especially with their kids.  I didn't see a whole lot of people just...talking or playing games together.  It was really incredible and not exactly in a good way.
I definitely noticed myself having, I guess what is reverse culture shock.  I have heard about it, they told us we would experience it before coming to Ecuador, but this is the first time I really experienced it first hand.  I don't want to be misunderstood, I do love my country and feel very blessed to have been born in the U.S.  However, I am noticing things now that I probably wouldn't have noticed before going to Ecuador.  It's not even to say I don't notice myself being distracted by T.V. in Ecuador.  I realize that and I don't like it.  But the main thing I kept thinking is: "I don't want Simeon to be like this."  But then next thought I had is: "how do I keep this from happening?"  I want him to TALK to people, not just text or send an email.  I want there to be deep relationships for him, not just surface stuff he reads on Facebook.  I want him to learn to play euchre and speed and dutch blitz like we did growing up.  I want him to learn and understand cultures and appreciate them, not just compare them to the cultures he knows-thinking those are the best.
I suppose I am still trying to wrap my head around loving 2 cultures at the same time.  I know I need to try and love the good things about both cultures and move on.  I suppose this is just a rant-but I think it is important to realize the importance of time together without technology to interrupt.

1 comment:

Marta Klein said...

AMEN!! Thanks for writing this. I've been thinking about my time to go back to the States in about 6 months and wondering what the "reverse culture shock" will be like. I, too, have noticed what you are talking about. The need for relationships is greater in a cross-cultural setting, however that need is just as great in our society. We just get too distracted by all the "noise" of technology and we distance ourselves from actually having a conversation past the obligatory, "Hi, how are you?".
Congrats on doing the steps to be consecrated missionaries. I'm considering doing that or extending my short term commitment. I have seen some interesting stuff in the last month. I'm hoping I won't be too far out of date when I go back home! Thinking of you!