This animated diagram illustrates two paths people take during the four phases of long-term cross-cultural encounters. The term "culture shock" was coined by Kalvero Oberg in 1954. It's a good label for the psychological experience of adults during the time of cultural adjustment that accompanies a period of cultural socialization or acculturation (which is different from the enculturation process experienced by children). The cultural adjustment period usually includes some disorientation brought on by such things as being confused as to where the cultural boundaries are.
The confusion and anxiety brought on by culture stress or shock may cause us to think, do or say things that are contrary to God's purpose.
For a non-animated version of this diagram, click here. Diagram is used by permission from Duane Elmer's Cross-Cultural Connections (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 72) and under the "fair use" provisions for educational purposes of copyright laws.
Symptoms of culture shock:
"One of the best defenses [against severe culture shock] is knowledge. . . Know what you are likely to experience" — Diana Newlon, Nazarene Bible College student
How can we cope with the disorientation of adjusting to a new culture? Having information about culture shock is a first important step. Attempting to distance ourselves from an ethnocentric perspective will help. Then, to successfully cope, let's make sure our attitudes mirror those suggested in green and red in the top half of the diagram. As you work through cultural socialization, follow these tips on surviving situations where verbal and non-verbal cues and codes are unfamiliar to you:
Knowing how to survive culture shock or stress can be useful to missionaries as well as to aiding foreign students who come to our country to study.
Can Holy Scripture help us with cross-cultural adjustment? Well, the book of Acts would be a good place to start. It has several examples of cultural adjustment or socialization. Paul, who grew up in modern-day Turkey and then was educated in Jerusalem, moved around the Mediterranean planting churches in different cultural contexts. To the Philippians he wrote: "I learned to be content whatever the circumstances." (Philippians 4:11). As Paul coped with various cultural issues, he was also dogged by Jewish Christians from Israel who tried to force Gentile converts to become Jewish (in which case Christianity would have been a mono-cultural movement).
Another relevant Biblical event is the story of Ruth. Here's a young woman who left her home country and culture and moved to Israel and wound up ultimately being in the list of Jesus' ancestors!
Other Bible stories to ponder include:
Reverse culture shock and how to copy with it at home - AbbeyRoad programs
Reverse culture shock is what people often experience when returning to their home culture after living in another for a period of time. That can be a long process. A 60-year old MK (Missionary Kid) wrote, "My parents took us to Brazil when I was seven. The work of adjusting back to the States seems never quite over."
|Moving from ethnocentric monoculturalism to joyfully embracing multi-culturalism is not done with one huge leap. It is a journey of small steps.|
|Personal experiences with culture shock in Italy|
Cultural Anthropology course resources: Cultural adjustment realities Cultural bingo icebreaker Bwanda Fusa game Cultural anthropology case studies Christianity and culture The path to cross-cultural adjustment Ethnocentrism and mooculturalism Exam study guides Cultural Anthropology FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) Iceberg and concentric circles culture models Light bulb illustration: What do you see? World missions and culture My own culture shock PowerPoint presentations used in class Reading report Reentry: Coming home Research paper topic auggestions Becoming a minority of one
Readings: "Contextualization" "Ethics of change" "Mission" "Points of view" "Responsibility" "Value"
Short term missions resources 10/40 Window explanation and map