Tuesday, April 14, 2009


It's been fascinating to observe and learn some things about Vietnamese culture this year.  One of the most interesting to me has been the collective society that is so night and day from my American individualistic mindset.  I cannot tell you how many times I have had students ask me why I went to the market alone, ran around the lake alone, walked on campus alone, etc.  That is SOOO strange to them.  "Miss Suzy, you go alone????!!!!"  To be alone is like the worst thing ever here!  I have explained that I am not upset at my teammates or anything, and that I do not feel sad about going places alone.  But it is just not normal here.  So it really isn't very relaxing to go places alone because you must prepare for all the questions and stares :)

As introverted as I am though, I completely see the benefits of doing life together.  You have another person to share your experience with, to help you make decisions, to face challenges with, to laugh with, to keep you from getting run over by an oncoming moto, to help you bargain for the best price, etc.  As I observe life around me, I really think this is how the Father meant for us to live.  Yet our American ways seem so far from the ideal community.  I feel privileged to have glimpsed and learned from the Vietnamese ways.

Of course, there is always this tension of living in a foreign country because your ways of life no longer fit.  But I'm thankful for what He's teaching me about community.  It's been stretching for sure.  This year I have learned a lot through my team, and especially through my roommate.  Maren and I have had to work very hard at learning each other's communication styles this year (even though we are from "the same" cultural background) :)  We have had moments of tension, frustration, and tears.  Yet despite my natural desires to have my own space, I have learned to share this apartment now called home, and I have seen the benefits of doing life together over and over again.  I'm so glad I've experienced true community this year.

A big shout out to my team, and especially my roomie who shares just about everything with me ... ahem :) I can't begin to describe how much of life we do together!  It's a risky thing to know and be known- but an amazing thing to be loved even so!  


Jenn said...

I miss you! Thanks for taking time to talk tonight.

Megan said...

I love that reaction! I asked my one of my friends about doing things alone and she thought I was so weird for going places myself.