When I graduated from high school, my mom wrote me a letter reminiscing about my years growing up. “Your inquisitiveness about killed me,” she wrote…or something like that. She was actually a lot sweeter about it, but I do know I did ask a lot of questions as a child, and I’m sure she was regularly exhausted from my incessant curiosity.
I believe that this inquisitiveness served me well in the beginning days as an expat. Asking questions before entering new social situations (i.e. parties, religious ceremonies, work settings) helped me know what to expect about a new experience and how to appropriately respond.
But over the course of time, my understanding of the culture and my environment grew. And sadly, I think I stopped asking important questions. I made many more assumptions and thought much too highly of my cultural acquisition.
I’m confessing this because, as I think about the word curiosity this week, I am finding myself needing to recommit to asking questions about my host culture. I’m seeing that it really is important to be a constant learner – never settling for having “arrived” because after all, we will always be foreigners.
If you’ve just moved overseas, or if you—like me—need to recommit to being curious about your host cultures, I’ve started a list of questions you can ask to help jump-start your learning about where you live.
- What role do relationships play in your surrounding community?
- How has the history of the past 50 years of your host nation influenced the culture?
- Which holds more weight in your host culture: the written law or the social law?
- What role do women play in the society?
- What are the opportunities your neighbors see for your community?
Can you guys help me out? Let’s extend this list into the comments! What questions have helped you understand your host culture more deeply? What would you add to this list to help us spark our curiosity of our neighbors and friends?
This is The Grove and we want to hear from you! You can link up your blog post, or share your practices, ponderings, wisdom, questions, ideas, and creative expressions with us in the comments below.
Here’s our Instagram collection from this week using #VelvetAshesCuriosity. You can add yours!