Every country has its own complex history, culinary tradition, spiritual expression (or three); its psycho-social reaction to trauma, methods to educate, and medical treatments; dances, songs, artistic oeuvre; political organ, scientific tradition, brick-a-brack house, street food, topiary, dog breed, orchid… This is all just people, us, trying to make sense of what we’ve got.
From my respective box, I offer a solution to my aunt Ellie’s question about ethically depicting another culture to an American audience: characterize the “odd” habits of the “others” as the commonplace. Because that’s precisely what they are – a commonplace you just don’t understand, yet.
Continue reading Others’ Cultures: Part 3
Comparing two cultures is a privilege – if not an essential practice – that can catalyze greater understanding of the self, a native society and how societies relate to one another. My time in Moldova has helped me see beyond what I had been socialized to accept as “normal.”
People have to make sense of what they observe, and the way the human mind accomplishes this most efficiently is to draw upon previous experience. We compare and contrast, often intuitively. It’s a box – we can become trapped in it – but it’s on wheels.
Continue reading Others’ Cultures: Part 2
When you come to know how little you will know is vital. Part of it is developing the skill to change your vantage point. Part of it is learning to give yourself the side-eye. Humble advice: employ “the snort” for emphasis.
Recently, I’ve been reflecting on my integration into Comrat. It’s uncomfortable to know that I’m often still interpreting interactions and observations based on my own cultural framework and personal values. I’m perfecting the “you’re an idiot but I love you” internal monologue. I practice on the cat to make sure it’s affectionate.
Continue reading The Epic Failure of Your Perceptions, or, When is it Immersion?