Understanding local governments and customs
From KB, 2004:
I think understanding a new government and customs would take some time. It must be difficult to know what is appropriate or not. Plus it would be hard to let go of certain assumptions from the customs one grew up with. You’d need to make sure you know the laws of the government and the consequences. Learning customs must come from the knowledge of others from that area, plus just experiencing it. I think it would be interesting to find out some faux-pas experienced. How did they come to understand the workings of the gov. and customs? How long did it take to have a handle on things? Were some things difficult to remember? Did you understand the reasoning for their customs? Did anything seem completely odd that they did? Was the government for/against their mission work? What was their relationship with the government? Did they adopt any customs from the culture into their own lives permanently?
Ideas from MM, 2003
Different governments don’t allow free speech, or questioning their actions
Different governments have different punishments for crimes
Superstitions and customs vary greatly and simply from one culture to the next
Not observing a custom, or doing something wrong can deeply offend someone
If you are seen as an outsider, some leeway may be given, much like it would be given to someone mentally handicapped
Many governments may think that you are there for some other reason, and therefore will keep close tabs on you.
Some governments may not actually want you there, or change their minds over time
Some customs may offend you, but it’s very important not to show it.
Have to keep an open mind when observing local governments, and customs
Men, woman, children, and every other category of person is treated a certain way in each area, and in many of these areas it’s because of the government or/and ancient customs
Local governments have the power to imprison you, or de-port you
Many societies are patriarchal (male dominated)
In many countries you wont have the personal space that you may be used to, because people are so used to spending all of their time with other people, not by themselves. In these countries if you spend a large amount of time by yourself it will likely create barriers separating yourself from those around you.
People are more trusting of others, and institutions in other countries. An example is that people trust the schools to educate their children.
Most cultures regard education much higher than the way that the us culture is currently
Schools are just expected to run 6 to 7 days a week in some countries because the culture just expects it
Businesses usually don’t go from 9 to 5 five days a week like the U.S., the culture here wouldn’t allow such a thing
Different cultures have different religious practices that are taken very seriously. Only a small percent of the world is Christian.
In the U.S. you can talk bad about a custom or religious practice even in jest and not have to bad of a consequence, but some cultures take extreme pride in their practices
You will be expected (in certain cultures) to hire people to take care of your house. If you don’t pay these people the average going wage for that area you will cause problems in the community for them and yourself. You have to resist the urge to pay an American wage.
Many cultures are more willing to help, and if you don’t ask for it, or except it there will be big problems.
Although you are an outsider eventually you will need to show that you aren’t a parasite, or a lazy lay about. So have a secondary skill you can use, or at the very least make sure that you have daily activities that will take you away from your house for a number of hours every day.
Not every culture has the same ideas of what is appropriate or inappropriate for manner of dress. If the culture your going to for example doesn’t believe woman showing their legs than bring accomidating cloths.
Some cultures will expect you to hire help such as housekeepers. If you do not do this, because you are seen to have a lot of money the people around you may likely form a bad opinion of you.
People in a particular culture (including us) may have never been exposed to any other culture/customs besides the one that they are in, then they will likely believe that the only correct way to do things is the way that they have always done them.
Video by Karen B
 Video by Karen B
 Culture shock by Myron Loss, chapter 3 p48
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