Cultural differences and seeing things from another perspective is something that is very important, be in a personal or business relationship. It allows for a flow of communication so that the two parties can better understand each other. It is about this, I am writing my 60th edition of Weathering the Storm, which if I had timed in right, would have been written for the week of my 60th, birthday, but alas, it wasn’t, but it is being written on the occasion of something very special, Rosa’s first blog that will be posted to her website and her business Facebook page, which I hope you will all read. I won’t tell you about it, you will just have to read it and it is a good read. It can be translated, with the Google translator, but I also cleaned up the English version, which if asked, I can share, as well. She told me she wrote it on the flight home from San Francisco when we parted ways back in February. You will get the gist, of course.
Her blog and my musings on cultural differences is also very timely, as you all know that I am taking a certification course on teaching English as a foreign language with the intent to teach overseas. As I mentioned, before, don’t freak out, my travel business is and will still be there for you and when my departure for that country with a boot, comes, I will let all know, but know for sure, that the Wandering Puffin is not going away when it comes to planning your travel adventures. This is just in addition to my passion for planning travel and, of course being closer to Rosa.
My assignment besides, reading the chapter on cultural sensitivity, was to write a paper on cultural differences, both on the surface and the deep level differences of a country in which I intended to teach English, and for me , at this point in my life, there’s one, and how important it is to understand these cultural differences, not only traveling to a new place, something I have always shared with my clientele, but also for business reasons and for teaching kids or adults as everyone comes from a different point of view. This is even true when two people even from the same country have different upbringings and different attitudes towards something. It is important to not only find the common ground, but to truly understand each other’s point of view. It does not mean you have to agree on everything, but to conduct business, to understand a client’s needs. Heck, my relationship with Rosa, we need to understand the differences and appreciate them and I believe we do.
I told her that I was trying to adopt some of the Italian ways, and she said no, I don’t want you to lose your American way. I don’t plan on that but having traveled to nearly 80 countries in the world, I try very hard to ingratiate myself to the local culture and not bring the American mentality into the program. I want to understand other cultures and appreciate the differences, but also find the similarities and there are always some similarities. I guess that since I lived in France when I was 12 for a year, I was able to learn that other cultures have a different way of doing things, not necessarily better or worse, simply different. I have even tried to adopt some of these approaches, as I see the value in doing so. This may not be for everyone and as you will see, or read, when you read her blog, it may be difficult, but what she and I found out about each other and the experiences we had together was an understanding of our cultural differences and an appreciation for them, I think. I will never try to change her and she, having said, I don’t want you to change your American way, I know she does not want to change me.
The piece I had to write asked for examples of surface and deep cultural experiences and how they may relate to a classroom and really the question in my mind, is more in tune with my willingness to adapt to the new environment when it does happen. Family is huge to the Italians, and so is food. Both are central to the culture and have deep roots in the history of Italy all the way back to the Roman times. I hope I can immerse myself appropriately. I am sure there will be slip ups, but that is part of the learning process. I am confident I will be able to and excel at that aspect of my life, albeit somewhat of a struggle in my early years. I have been an educator for over 35 years in some capacity of another, and this will simply enhance my chance to be a formal educator, once again, in an environment where the rules are different, the cultural rules are different I should say. But in the end, people are people and want to live their lives and be happy, however that is defined. Each culture puts different emphases on this, and these are challenges when you want to expand your horizons and continue to grow.
As always, I am interested in your thoughts, comments, questions and adding to the discourse is always appreciated be in on the site itself or on Facebook, Twitter or wherever you read this. Thank you for your support of this small business and it is truly appreciated!!!
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Weathering the Storm with the Wandering Puffin