How do you say “Hello” in your culture and language? How, in your culture, do people make friends? When would you invite somebody to your house? How is food prepared?
Living in different cultures makes us aware that what we can take for granted at home may work differently in other countries.
It is the many little things but as well the big things that are different. What is the role of the school in the upbringing of children and what is deemed the responsibility of the parents? What is the role of the individual, the family, the community, the state? How am I successful as man or woman, as a husband or wife in this culture? What does having a good life look like?
Living in a different culture inevitably will have an impact on us – getting a sense of how things are abroad we will also gain richer perspectives on our own culture and on what is familiar to us. People will to some extend change their way of relating with institutions, friends or colleagues when they live or work in a different culture.
With many things different some of the challenges life confronts us may be significantly more difficult to manage or to cope with. Some of these challenges particularly relate to moving countries, leaving friends or family behind, changing schools or work environments, taking on new responsibilities as a husband, wife or child.
Cultural challenges can create complex demands on us. A child for instance may be a member of different cultures: the local culture of children at school, the culture of her family, the youth culture of kids who interact through SMS, social networking websites or blogs to name a few. Each culture has its own values, believes, rituals and sanctions. Life can get complex very quickly.
Many of the difficulties emerge when different cultures collide because their values and believes seem to be in conflict with each other. Then we often find it difficult to appreciate what is good and beautiful in each of these cultures. Each form of life carries possibilities and resources. It is possible to reflect and make sense of how the many cultures can contribute to what is going on and how we can best find a way forward using some of these resources or ideas.
We are passionate about diversity of cultures and values and to learn from and with our clients about their culture and the challenges they may experience. Culture is often one of many resources people bring to consultations or therapy. As we see people who come from different places we appreciate the difference they bring to our work and we learn how we can best relate respectfully to them and their culture.
Having lived and worked in different countries and cultures ourselves, as individuals and with our family, we aspire to be a resource to others who experience the richness and the challenges of a cultural diverse family life, work life or school life.