Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Learning Journal 10

While playing the game rafa rafa at the cultural inquiry meeting, there were several eye-opening parallels to what I will experience as I relocate to a foreign culture in Tonga. I was in the beta culture where my goal in life was to trade, keep people out of my personal bubble, and communicate with only animal sounds and arm movements to negotiate deals. It was interesting to observe and participate in the alpha culture, but intimidating at the same time as I didn't understand what was going on and how to interact with the people. I was reminded in a small way what culture shock is like, but unlike the game, I'll be able to ask for explanations and my observation period will be long than a few minutes. I realize there will be some degree of adjustment as I arrive. And despite the many countries I have lived in, each culture is unique and requires a modified approach. But what I have come to appreciate the most is that with time, the aspects of the culture that initially appeared so foreign and strange, become normal and expected.
The other aspect of the game that caused some reflection was being the beta culture and having someone from the other group come to interact with us. I was mostly entertained by having 'foreigners' not really understand what was going on, while they felt offended when we rejected their trade. I think that is the case in many cultures. Foreigners are expected to have 'quirks' and not entirely understand. But respect comes by simply immersing themselves and making an effort to understand a new way of thinking.
I am glad that I went to the rafa rafa game and to be reminded of the feelings associated with going into a new culture.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you had a fun time, wish I could have been there! But, I think we've all had an experience like that. It's kind of like playing a new game, where everyone but you knows the rules and it just takes a while to get used to everything. Sometimes we don't understand why the game is the way it is, sometimes there are reasons but maybe not! The important thing is that once you get the hang of it, it's a fun time and you're excited to teach someone else this game. It's like our field study experience, we are thrown into a new culture and we just have to learn as we go before it becomes just second nature. Thanks for this post!