Thursday, February 26, 2009

Reverse Culture Shock Re-Orientation Session

Yesterday we had a session to prepare us to get ready to go back to the good ole USA. People have said to me that the reverse culture shock (the shock that “your” culture now suddenly seems foreign) is worse than the culture shock of arriving to the foreign land. The session was filled with questions like “Who will you call first when you get back? What do you wish you could import back to the US? What will your first meal be? Who will be our hardest goodbye? What will you miss the most? Who will you miss the most? What will have changed since you’ve been gone” and so on and so forth.

The session had some helpful aspects, and given that is was led by our program director, and attended by friends, wasn’t too painful. However, there were some responses that were rather surprising after 6 months in Senegal. For example one question was “What will you not miss?” One response was “backwardness.” It’s funny to see how people still don’t understand the idea of cultural relativity after six months in another country.

As I’ve been thinking about going home, somehow my thoughts always stop after that first BLT sandwich. I have sort of forgotten that I have a “real” life to go back to in NJ and back in Kalamazoo. I was talking to Alejandra and we both feel like life doesn’t really exist after those 24 hours back to the states. We wish there was a way to just take a break from Senegal for a little bit but then return back to our host families. Or more preferably, just take select people back to the states. And have them magically learn English. 

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