The Hayes Zoo

Our Purpose

- to know God and use our entire lives in service to Him.

- to stand in the gap through prayer, giving and service to viable ministries in Latin America.

- to be transparent helpers of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, using our resources and skills that through the Holy Spirit, we might encourage and equip those who have less.

- to share a living perspective from Latin America to our churches, friends and family in the states and beyond.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Culture Shock Snapshots....

or maybe better titled "Reverse-Culture Shock". It's a true phenomenen.

Culture Shock by definition: anxiety and feelings (of surprise, disorientation, uncertainty, confusion, etc.) felt when people have to operate within a different and unknown culture such as one may encounter in a foreign country. It grows out of the difficulties in assimilating the new culture, causing difficulty in knowing what is appropriate and what is not.

And just for kicks: Reverse Culture Shock - returning to one's home culture after growing accustomed to a new one can produce the same effects as described above. This results from the psychosomatic and psychological consequences of the readjustment process to the primary culture. The affected person often finds this more surprising and difficult to deal with than the original culture shock.

Thank you Wikipedia.

Now - having moved a zillion miles (twice) over 3 borders, 2 languages and 3 very. different. cultures., I can honestly say that this is not hugely surprising, this time. I did it badly once being caught off guard and promised my family and myself that I would NEVER be that uninformed again. Well, being informed and handling things well are two different animals, just in case you were wondering.

The usual issues for us:

1. Language. One of our children is constantly asking us, "What language are we speaking here?" It's right up there with 'What's for breakfast?' on her gotta know list. Once we clear that up (we 99% of the time speak ENGLISH outside the home in the USA) she's off and rollin'. Now, here in the southern US we've managed to hear quite a bit of Spanish and it's not unusual for my kids to wind up overhearing AND RESPONDING to other people's conversations. You should see the heads snap in the line. I'm trying to work on them with that but that's just something people do in Mexico - it's community conversation.

2. Toilet Paper - South of the border - you don't flush it. North of the border - YOU FLUSH IT. The retraining every time is exhausting and kind of gross. I feel a bit like I'm in never ending potty training.

3. You don't wander around. Mexico we live in a little town off a dirt road and know most of our neighbors. Plus you walk EVERYWHERE. But - here the big question is "Why can't we go to X by ourselves?" Right.

4. On that note - our kids haven't realized neighborhood boundaries. Our friend was explaining to Riley, who was riding his rip-stick up and down everyone's driveways, that usually people aren't too keen on strangers being in their house space and he just didn't get it. Good thing he's obeying anyway.

For Alan and I the BIGGEST thing we've noticed is that we drive the oldest thing on the road. Gee wiz - when did a '91 become ancient?

Other funnies:

Produce in the store looks so UNIFORM and I've completely forgotten about peeling off all those little stickers that are on every. single. piece. of. fruit..

We don't recognize any of the music.

We wonder if we've landed in 1984 regarding new fashion. This is fine by me - because now the Goodwill is stocked with all those cute styles I really liked a few years ago that are now 'out'. :)

I'm *sure* there will be more...hmmm...maybe this will grow to be a weekly posting option.

Working it out so that I'm semi-normal by the time I see you,



Theresa in WV said...

I cannot imagine going back and forth like that! No wonder your kids are confused! When we were in Europe last year, I was constantly confusing my languages....answering Italians in French, Spaniards in Italian, French in Frenlish....
Hope you can adapt quickly - and then again when you return to south of the border!

Grateful for Grace said...

Oh, I love this post. I've been wondering how things were going and I like this insight into your life/family. Cool.

See you soon!

Phil and Pattie said...

I could relate to this on so many levels. We are getting ready to head out on our first home assignment but have made a few trips to the states in the past from south of the border and it is always an adventure and adjustment. We will pull up as someone's and the first question is whether they speak English or Spanish...cause like you said, they gotta know. I am always blown away by how many new products there are at the stores. I have been praying for you and your family as you travel. (Connected to your blog through the In Real Life one.) Pattie