All Campuses  |  Published on December 31, 1969

Culture Awareness by Country

Overview

Culture Shock

Each culture brings its own set of unique circumstances and way of life. Take some time before you go on your trip to learn about the culture and people you will be serving.

If you start to experience culture shock on your trip, know that this is normal. That’s why you have a team. Reach out to your leader and teammates and tell them how you are feeling and what you are experiencing. Keeping a positive mindset is another great tool. Do not let the world get the best of you, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind daily.

Some of your most fascinating experiences will occur because of the beautiful creativity and diversity that God has created among cultures. Learn to embrace it and prepare to be changed forever.

Culture stress is the personal disorientation a person may feel when experiencing:
an unfamiliar way of life due to immigration or a visit to a new country,
a move between social environments,
or simply travel to another type of life.

Triggers of Culture Stress:

These basic factors can trigger culture stress in a new setting and are usually seen as different from that which is “normal”.

Language
When confronted with a new language and an inability to communicate, the traveler is fearful, threatened, and frustrated. Learning key words and phrases before going to a new place can offset this fear. Remember: A smile goes a long way toward communicating Christ’s love.

Space
Americans require a lot of personal space. In other cultures, personal space may be non-existent and sharing space normal. Personal space may not exist in transportation, in cafes, or even in restrooms.

Time
Unlike most other cultures, Americans are time conscious. The successful cross-cultural worker leaves the day planner at home. Do not be annoyed when events do not start on time. Relax and enjoy the situation. “On time but flexible,” should be your motto.

Variety
Many societies do not have the abundance of consumer goods Americans take for granted. Toothpaste, shampoo, bread, and automobiles may not be available in multiple brands or sizes.

Comfort and Convenience
Millions of people live without air conditioning, microwaves, personal automobiles, and a myriad of small appliances. Comfort can be defined not only in terms of physical comfort but also of emotional comfort.

Cleanliness
Standards of “clean” and “not clean” are highly cultural. In some cultures, people are appalled that Americans wear their street shoes inside the house, which they regard as a rude and filthy habit.

Poverty
Although America has poverty, many Americans never see the kind of poverty they encounter in other countries. Overseas poverty often is so profound that Americans are overcome with grief at its sight.

Surviving and Thriving in Another Culture
  • Disconnect and connect – disconnect from your phone/internet and connect with people.
  • Ask questions of nationals and field partners.
  • Be observant – don’t assume you know why something is done and ask questions.
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
  • Plan extra time for everything.
  • Don’t assume everyone wants to be an American.
  • Be an active learner in your new country/culture, every day.
  • Make friends with nationals intentionally.

Worldview

Worldview is a collection of the perceptions, assumptions, and beliefs through which people within a specific culture see their world and interact with it.

Worldview influences our core beliefs and helps us answer questions like:

  • Who are we?
  • How did we come to exist? How did the world come to exist?
  • Is there a God? Or other spiritual beings or forces? If so, what is our relationship to Him/them?
  • How do we determine right and wrong? Good and bad?
  • Why is there evil and suffering in the world?
  • What is our purpose in life?
  • What happens when we die?

Why study worldview?

  • Understanding worldview enables us to pray more specifically.
  • Understanding worldview helps us establish a more beneficial presence among our unreached people groups.
  • Understanding worldview allows us to communicate the gospel more effectively.
  • Understanding worldview helps us to identify bridges and barriers to the gospel.
  • It is critical to understand worldview because it is the filter through which a person or people hears and understands the gospel.

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Cultural Awareness by Country

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