Monday, August 11, 2008

Between Cultures

August 7, 2008

So I noticed the other day that I’m starting to be between cultures. I know this is even more evident once I am placed at my permanent site- which I’ve heard from sources is a sweet and awesome job- I’m excited to see (count down two weeks !). Anyways, I was walking back from technical training the other day with some of the other volunteers and I began to realize that I’m not longer fully American, nor am I completely Kyrgyz (which I’ll never ever fully be).

What do I mean by this? Well, I’ve noticed how I’ve become more and more used to Kyrgyz everyday life. I’m becoming more used to the dinner rituals and gender roles. I’ve been to bazaar (haven’t yet bought anything) but understand and see what is both good and bad about them. On that same note, I’ve realized how much I’m beginning not to like the regular grocery stores or other forms of commercialization. Yet there are a few times when it would be nice to run to a store, particularly a book store, and get anything. I think, though, the biggest area I’m speaking of is how less American behavior I’m beginning to show. I have noticed more just how we as Americans really do stand out in crowds and draw attention to ourselves. We are loud, cheerful, travel in groups, and sometimes are not considerate of the host country’s culture. We naturally draw attention to ourselves, which I don’t know if that’s good or bad. I’ve also noticed how much of a complaining and action now people we are. There is much complaining about various things going on within the volunteer community and I don’t really understand it. Sure, some if it can be an inconvenience but it’s not hard by any means and shouldn’t be treated as this difficult thing to do. It’s this area that has made me see really how we are a people that likes answers now and will try to do what we can to get them.

None of this is necessarily a bad thing… many of it is what makes us Americans and the smiles that we usually give when meeting people are often what is most remembered. It is interesting though, trying to dispel the myths they have of Americans here (mostly come about by TV and magazines) while at the same time not trying to be a typical American either. It’s a rather slippery slope to be on, but one I hope to be able to walk well these next few years.

So think about your culture… what do you portray and what do others see about you? What would you like to show about yourself and your culture?

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