This is the final installment of this series. It has been overly simplistic in nature, but I wanted to give you something begin thinking about for your own context, but also wanted to give you an insight into our world here. This final installment is on Cultural Preferences.
When I first arrived to South Africa, I had a very limited understanding of pop culture. When I stood up to teach, I pulled from my bag of examples all flavored with Americana goodness. No one knew what I was talking about. No one else cares about baseball for some reason. In three years, I’ve learned a lot. The more I learn, the more I find out I need to learn! For example: Rugby and soccer are two massively different cultures here. I’m learning that more and more by living by the stadium!
The suggestion of my coachee is that a bridge we can choose to build is to take interest in the things that interest those who are different. You see it in the dorms here when the black students engage the rugby games with their white counterparts. A crack in the wall gets made. Or when the white guys went to the World Cup (soccer) fan parks to watch games with their black counterparts… But this has to move past exploration and into real interest or it’s a fake relationship. I mean, I like jazz. If you want to be really close to me, you have to WANT to go to a jazz club with me. I can tell when you’re there out of obligation, and then it’s just awkward.
The final piece to all of this series: if we want to be serious about reconciliation, we need to evaluate our current friendship circles. How many close friends do we have who are different? I’m not saying we need to go make new friends out of obligation, but our close circles do reveal something I think. I think it’s a long process. I think out of hope for a brighter future, we start by exploring relationship. I have a hunch that through exploration, we will find common grounds and really like to hang out with people who are different. They help us understand something of life that we’re missing out on.