Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Flip Culture

This week is the start of a new semester. Complete freshness. Just like outside. We’re having the biggest snowfall of the year so far and it is gorgeous. 15 inches in one day. I parked on the street by the college and actually got snowed in - some nice shovelers and a plowman though helped with getting me out. ...It is always exciting on these days to see the new faces when I walk into the classroom too. I think in the afternoons this semester I will be teaching Pronunciation and Reading as electives.

Someone asked me the other day, now that I have been back in Canada for a few months, what is the hardest adjustment? After thinking about this I have to say that it is connections with people. I used to hear brothers and sisters overseas and other expats say that after living in a flip culture (complete reverse of your own), going back and trying to connect with people is one of the hardest challenges. People are great in Canada, so that is not the problem. But I do know what they mean now. A person can’t help but change a lot when living in a completely different environment. In my case it started with living in a 10x10 apartment, and seeing all my friends do the same. You start to look at material items and what a person really needs, differently than before. A person spends a lot more time thinking about life, and developing their relationship even moreso with Jehovah…because really…when no one else in your area speaks English and your congregation members are not close by, He really does become your confidant. A person also gets used to a lot of peace in their life...not a lot of drama. And then seeing many friends in foreign lands live such simple lives. And then there are the lessons of values. You talk to someone who had their fingers ripped off by a cookie machine because the employer didn’t provide safety equipment, or someone else whose arm was sucked into a roller and broken badly. Or someone’s Bible study is taken to the emergency room because her fingers have turned blue because of no heat in their truck container home at –15 degrees. Or then there was the sister I worked with in service who told me she knows others don't understand why ones work overseas away from their families, but then told me they too wanted enough money to feed their children or take them to the hospital when they are sick. It's one of those 'walk a mile in another's shoes situations I guess. But all these things helped me put things into perspective and become more empathetic. It can’t help but alter the way a person starts looking at other’s lives and their own life. Breaks it down to what is really important.. …But these are the thoughts that I find one really can’t share with many others because ones may think you are being self-righteous, but that is not what is intended or what it is about. I know myself it has also just changed my perspective on how I look at things and react to situations permanently. Meeting these ones overseas and seeing their lives has reinforced what and who I really want in my life too. For instance, back here in Canada, I recently heard of a situation where there is a group of people planning a big event. I couldn’t believe how mean and awful they were treating each other. I really thought about this, and this is one of the things I react to differently now. At one time I would have just let those situations swirl around me, and even engage them if I had to, but now I just distance myself, because I can’t see having that stress around me anymore, or people who treat others badly. I know some people think it is okay because people are imperfect, so they tolerate it, but I just value my own peace of mind and happiness more now. Something else I have learned to appreciate is not having showy displays - even with gatherings, that’s okay for others, but now I think about ones who don’t have a lot, and the showy stuff really bothers me. I guess I have learned to be empathetic toward those with little. :-/ Reminds me of something I said to my mom last week, “my friends in the Philippines have very little, but when they send their pictures, EVERYONE in the picture has the biggest smiles on their faces”. :-) I am not perfect by any means, but I am glad I went away as it really did open my eyes and help me make changes within, so for others contemplating it, I do recommend it - - but just be ready for some changes within you probably didn’t expect either. :-) Anyway, regardless of the feeling a bit like the odd duck out at times… that is okay because good friends always accept you the way you are :-) …and likewise. And I do very much enjoy the company of spending time with my parents again. :-) …So there were great advantages and lessons learned from living abroad that are irreplaceable, but there are some great perks about being here too.

Anyway, I hope my thoughts are not garbled or offensive to anyone, I just tried to put them down the best I could on this subject. And sorry for the bad grammar moments as I was typing at the speed of light. :-)

Much love to everyone! And have a wonderful week!
D -)

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