and now it's time for a book recommendation!
While my January attempt at reading Love in the Time of Cholera was starting to look like it would take more than 100 years of solitude, today I was able to pick up and re-read this book in only a couple of hours.
I first read this book before my return trip to Sierra Leone. While reading it then for SL was helpful, my real aha! moment came when I realized why living in Alabama was such a foreign experience. The author, who has lived in a combination of European, American, South American, and Middle Eastern cultures, outlines that people generally fall into two groups:
Hot-climate cultures and cold-climate cultures.
Those favoring "Hot" tend to be all about the group, are relationally focused, indirect communicators, as well as several other things.
Those favoring "Cold" tend to prize individualism, are task-driven, very direct communicators, as well as several other things.
Each of these broad cultural approaches brings with it many good things, however miscommunication and the fall-out from this abounds when cultures who do not understand each other mix.
For example, I can identify mostly with cold-cultural traits, but the U.S. "South" is mostly a "hot" culture. AHA!
This time as I reread Foreign to Familiar, however, I was reading for more than nostalgically diagnosing my differences with our southern countrymen. This summer I am preparing to go back to Sierra Leone to work with the national teachers there. This time leading the team. And since it's been a long year and a half since I was there, I wanted to spend some time reading and reflecting about how to use the cultural differences God has blessed us with to best communicate and help each other and help the Sierra Leonean children. But all this deserves its own post.
For now- know this. If you travel for service, business, or pleasure internationally or work with people from different cultures nationally, read. this. book. Especially if you like to see lightbulbs popping up above your head. And recommend it to your international friends. This book equally explains both sides of the cultural coin.
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