One of the main ideas of ICC is having a learner’s attitude. I was fortunate to have an excellent teacher in PNG, Wendy, and maintaining a learner’s attitude was easy. Yet, there’s a lot I need to learn about “saving face.”
A facilitator, Bryan, shared a story from his own life in the Philippines. He was walking along in town and tripped. Everyone who saw him, laughed. Initially he thought everyone was laughing at him, but he decided to join in and laugh with them. Without the learner mindset of wondering what is going on in a culture we can completely misunderstand events. Bryan learned from a cultural insider that “saving face” is important in Pilipino culture. By laughing, the bystanders were lightening up the situation and ensuring that Bryan wasn’t shamed.
Joining in and laughing was the right action too. Being a participant observer is another big principle that participants practice at ICC. This means watching and imitating to the best of your ability. Participants get to try out their skills at a public auction.
Another way to honor those we’re interacting with is to offer openness by suspending judgment. This is done by gaining more information before deciding if actions are right or wrong, or maybe even in the gray-zone. I was challenged to “suspend judgment” regarding my southern community. Personally, guns scare me, but they’re an important hobby and right for many people in this area. Is my distaste for guns something that I should really get hung up on or publicize? This is a simple example of being culturally sensitive even to those in my own culture. Of course there are still biblical absolutes. Yet, we have to ask ourselves are those absolutes we hold dearly to, biblical or cultural?
You can also see two other parts of openness hanging on the wall in the background: tolerate ambiguity and think gray or long. The final piece to openness is: assume goodwill.
Learning language also honors those with whom we’re interacting.
We also had fun thinking about some other multi-cultural ways of using the toilet, wearing clothes, greeting one another. How close do we get to each other? So many questions come up and often the answers come through asking and observing.
|Participants practice their Language and Cultural Acquisition skills (LACA) by listening to the nouns and acting out the verbs|
Personally, my absolute favorite part of the course is the focus on spiritual vitality! We’ll never be able to share the love of God if we aren’t drenched in his love ourselves. I’m thanking Papa for using ICC to speak his love to me.