Thursday, May 20, 2010

Change in Perspective

It has been quite some time since I have written. A lot has happened since then. Namely, I have been blessed by three weeks of hosting guests. On the 25th of April, my older sister Alicia arrived in Johannesburg, and stayed for two weeks, through the 8th of May. On the 4th of May, my friend and fellow ’09 Ride:Well Tour teammate Cody arrived, and he also stayed for two weeks, through the 17th of May. Needless to say, the past month has flown by.

Many reflections have come from this time. It was incredible and strange and difficult all at the same time to have them here. Obviously, there is a comfort from having people from “home” in a place on the other side of the world (which I now call “home”). There were also challenges. This place is different from where we are used to being together. Context, culture, people, circumstances, etc. - all of these things have shifted. It was exciting and new for my guests; they came enthusiastic to learn about and experience this new place. What I did not anticipate was how I might experience my life differently with an added lens of friends/family by my side.

Teaching someone about my life here is very different when I am not just sharing stories, but inviting them to see for themselves. Some of the sharing was difficult. It involved cultural and historical understandings of the land in which I live. Discussions about Apartheid and race and culture. Some of the sharing was lighter and more “fun” - introducing friends, colleagues, and my “family” here, sharing food and local traditions, visiting places I love. Then there were the other things, the small things that made us laugh together - the ways my accent has changed, the language I have adapted, the music we listen to, driving on the left side of the road.

Over the past month, I have been reflecting for the first time on different types of culture shock. when I think of culture shock I have always thought that I would be the one needing to move to a new place to experience it. I have realized through this experience that home comes to me, the same types of “culture shock” can apply. Not to the same extreme, of course, but in a whole new way: how do I balance my new life and changed self, with the old, expected self friends are coming to see and visit?

These are some of the issues and questions I have been mulling over. My hope is that more will come on these topics in the next few days as I seek time to write further reflections.

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