Sunday, June 29, 2008

Culture Shock

Whenever you go on a missions trip, you're always warned about something called.."culture shock". No, this isn't from sticking your finger in a light socket, or getting jolted from someone who's active with static electricity. Though I wish it were that concrete, it's involves more the emotional and psychological aspect of a person who's coming from one culture and stepping into another. Culture can be defined as :the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group. It's what makes up a particular people group; their language, their way of thinking, how they perceive life, and living. How another culture does things isn't necessarily wrong, just different.

Now if you've ever experienced "culture shock" which is really what I would describe and clashing with how another people group lives , thinks and responds, or what the encyclopedia describes as
a term used to describe the anxiety and feelings (of surprise, disorientation, confusion, etc.) felt when people have to operate within an entirely different cultural or social environment, such as a foreign country; then you can understand what i'm talking about.

The reason i'm talking about all this after being in Uganda almost 2 years now is because I find myself experiencing it a new. It seemed to be an easy adjustment the first time over (the honeymoon phase), a bit more difficult after our visit to the states (reality setting in) and more difficult than ever after living here with a baby.

I find that the way Ugandans think regarding their children and parenting is much different than the culture I come from. The people here live in what I would call the village mindset. Everyone raises the child as a community, and everyone has their say and opinion. In America, we tend to live more isolated and private and it's offensive to give advice when it's not asked for, especially regarding parenting.

Well in my life these days, the village midset is clashing with the western mindset that i've become accustom to. Perfect strangers will come up to me and tell me I should cover my child better, or feed him if he's crying (even if he's not hungry), they will try to take him from my arms and hold him without asking, and stare in amazement when I cover up while nursing. (Nursing in public is an accepted practice here.)

Here I notice mothers covering their babies in layers of clothing and winter hats when it is 70, or 80 degrees outside because they have a cultural idea that cold weather causes sickness and death. They've become so accustom to their children getting sick and dying that they've decided it's because their children weren't protected from the weather. Knowing that the weather doesn't cause sickness (especially 70 or 80 degree weather) I have become the odd one out and am told almost daily that I need to cover my child. This is a cultural clash and is a hurdle in parenting that I must learn to climb over.

Culture is an interesting thing and I think about how funny some cultural ideas come about. It all comes from experience. And here...if grandmother (jaja) says it's true, then it must be true. My American experience has been much different than the Ugandan experience. If grandma says it's true, I check on the internet! ha.

So, all that to say. If you want to experience what i'm talking about, just come to Uganda and discover all the joys and struggles that living in another country produces.

All for now......

Monday, June 23, 2008

Uganda...From The Mobile Phone Perspective

Having a phone with a camera is quite handy for capturing things you always wish you funny sayings on the back of taxi's.

And naked neighbor children waving as you go by. This is quite a frequent occurrence by the way.

Makes me chuckle....

Another common site in Uganda, is women carrying large amounts of, well for instance, on this occasion...stools on their heads.

When travelling in the car, it's quite often that sleeping babies happen. Thank goodness for camera phones. Wouldn't want to miss these fine photo ops!