Thursday, May 19, 2005


My friend Gerhard from Australia shared an interesting story I want to share with you:

One experience I had was when I was working with a guy who was a Samoan part time Pastor of the Samoan church and who was also doing studies to become a Pastor, and since I was a Christian we had the same interests so I offered him a lend of my most favorite books and audio tapes. But little did I know that if you lend anything to a Samoan it’s just like giving it to him.

So I never saw any of my books and tapes again until about 4 years later when he was sitting in the canteen reading a book, and when I sat next to him he said: Garry this book is really good, you should read it. So I told him to look behind the front cover and when he did he just looked and never said anything, and now 22 years later I’m still waiting for them.

One good thing about it was that the book looked like the whole Australian Samoan community had a lend of it, which makes me think that maybe the idea is that if the person that has the book keeps lending it to the next person it will eventually come back to you, if there are any Samoans here you might be able to tell me if that’s true. One thing though, it might be hard sometimes to adjust to different customs or cultures but don’t you think that when a person is in Rome he should at least try to do what the Romans do. I would be interested to hear if any one else had a similar experience.

God bless you all.

I actually experienced this in Africa. I tried to loan something to one of my students but when I went to get it back, he had written his name on it and incorporated it as his own. I just let him keep it because I didn't want to cause offense, but I have been VERY careful about this in future visits, believe me!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Cross Cultural Love

Okay, well, I guess I am not a very good blogger, because it takes me FOREVER to write these days! I just have not been thinking about Cultures Clashing the way I used to. But I should be, because I am preparing to marry a Brazilian and move to Brazil, so I will be dealing with Culture Clashing as a way of life!

Some people have asked me: Why are you so attracted to Foreign women? Why not an American girl? The answer, to be honest, is that most American women I have dated or wanted to date have been difficult. Either they lied, cheated, or were arrogant. OR they were rude and not ready to be in a relationship with someone who is so dedicated to his work with other cultures. Either way, they were not for me. And it turned me off. American women, in my experience do not appreciate men like me the way that foreign women do. Foreign women see my intelligence and success and work as a positive, not a negative. They want to be involved in it with me, and they are excited about the unique possibilities it brings for life -- travel, cross cultural encounters, constant new experiences and learning. To be honest, I have just had better experiences with the three foreign women I dated than the Americans. There were less games and more opportunities to have honest, open relationship. Obviously, I am not still with two of them, so there were problems. And in both cases, some were cultural. But they were more related to the character and maturity of the other person (and perhaps me as well) than to anything overwhelmingly cultural.

Anyway, I think it does take dedication to date cross culturally and a generosity to remember that you see the world differently and it will take work to sort these differences out and make the relationship work. You also have to compromise a lot. And you have to be willing to accept and appreciate the other person culturally. In some ways, I think being open to compromise is easier in cross cultural dating because there is less expectation that the other person will do things by cultural norms and standards you are used to. So you go into each situation with the expectation that it may be a cultural difference and looking to understand and find compromise. With a person from the same culture, we often just expect them to do things a certain way, and when they don't, that can create frustration and irritation.

Anyway, that is my experience. My present relationship with Bianca is one in a million because we have found acceptance and love that overcomes barriers. I can say anything to her without shame. And she is always there working to sort it out. Even when I am being a pain or foolish, she still is ready to accept and love me through it. I try to do the same with her (though I honestly think she is better at it than I am). And it has been easy to do this with each other in a way I never experienced in other relationships. Cultural issues have not been a big deal. Helpful is the fact Bianca speaks English very well and has spent a year living in America. Additionally, most of the cultural issues we have faced have related to my interacting with her family or other people (or them reacting to me) not our own interaction. We are lucky, I know.

But anyway, that is my thoughts on Cross Cultural Love. At least for now! As the Brazilians say, BEIJOS!