My best moments with the cross-culture exchange are the opportunities to learn so many valuable lessons. Understanding each other’s values, customs and respect is helping us build relationships and bring change to the community we live in. This year is taking me on a journey of understanding the difference between culture here in U.S. and my culture, as well as knowing how to connect in friendship with people.
One of the culture perspective differences is about the individualistic culture which is opposite for me, coming from the group culture. In volunteering with the church and as I’ve talked with my supervisors, this is giving me opportunities to see and understand more about what people value. Before I came to U.S., I heard that most of the people in U.S. are really individualistic and independent. I thought that meant everyone would seem separate from each other, no family relationship or connection. However, my time here with the church and community is helping me to understand and change my thought for the term “Individual”.
I’ve realized the value of the culture. The church is connecting people and their skills to serve and help the community a lot. In volunteering with the church’s preschool, I’ve seen that from the time children are small, parents, teachers and society value them as they are, as individuals. They learn to think for themselves. Every individual can speak for himself. I’ve heard the saying that, as an individual, we have an opinion, freedom and right. This is one great thing I learned from my journey.
God created us each as an individual and unique. God does His work through every individual. The capacity we have and the passion from each one of us helps the community grow. If every individual in the community is strong and helps each other, the community will be strong and also the country.
Photo credit: LaVerne Bennett and Shalom Wiebe
Youa Xiong is in the Internation Visitor Exchange Program (IVEP) from Laos.