Hello friends! My apologies for not updating about my training recently, but I am going to bring everyone up-to-date with my next two posts! Enjoy :).
During week four of ISP training, we went through a session about culture shock. They said culture shock is likely to happen to all of us, regardless of our ISP destinations. I spent the majority of the training session wondering how I would react to spending three whole weeks in another country, another culture, completely removed from my home country and my family. I still wonder sometimes. It it nothing I dwell on, just something I think about.
The first thing we talked about in training was the definition of culture shock. Culture shock is defined as a reaction to disorientation, and is also known as a cultural adjustment process. Next, they began to talk about the four stages of culture shock which are:
- Initial Euphoria–concentrates on the similarities between the two cultures, surface level stuff.
- Irritability and Hostility–focus on the difference between the two cultures, annoyance.
- Gradual Adjustment–feel comfortable in either culture, OK with either one.
- Adaptation–able to move back and forth between both cultures.
I never really thought about culture shock having stages. When I always hear missionaries or teachers or soldiers talking about the time they spent living overseas, I always thought the adjustment period took place overnight. I never had a reason to believe otherwise. But when they spoke about the four stages, I began to think of all the times I have been away from my own region where I am most comfortable, the region that is home to me.
It was at this point during the training session that they mentioned that everyone has experienced culture shock at one point in their life, regardless if they have exited the United States. This is completely true. I have been to Mexico where I experienced culture shock, but I have also been to Texas, North Carolina and Virginia as well as Ohio and Pennsylvania. Of course I have been to other states in the west, but none compare to the Midwest and South. Everything is just so different from southern California. The stores, the pace, the way of life are not the same everywhere you go.
I began to ask myself: If I can experience culture shock just by spending a week and a half in Ohio, what will I experience for three weeks in Japan?
They said the two most common ways to react to culture comes down to the Fight or Flight Response. Will we stay and fight the culture shock by keeping up with the schedule and always staying open to ministering to people, or do we take flight by retreating and staying away from the locals so we can have some peace of mind?
I pray that my response is to stay and fight. I never want my culture shock to keep me from ministering to someone who has never heard the good news of Jesus before. I pray that I will always be able to share with love and energy, and never allow a bad attitude or anxiety or the feeling of being homesick get in the way.
They taught about some culture shock facts next, and ended the night with a small demonstration of how a cross-cultural experience affects us. On the stage, they had a clear cup filled with yellow liquid and another cup right next to it filled with blue liquid. Two people went to the stage, one pouring a little bit into an empty clear cup, and switching back and forth until the third cup was filled with green liquid.
They finished the demonstration by reminding everyone that once you go cross-cultural and experience time in another culture and country, you cannot reverse the affects. You will carry that experience for the rest of your life.
But after sitting through that training session, I am absolutely certain that I never want to forget my time I get to spend in Japan. Regardless of what struggles I may encounter while I am in Japan, I want to carry the culture shock with me for the rest of my life. I know God will use my time to teach me countless lessons in the future.
God bless 🙂