I asked an Indian lady, whom I respect as an Educator among her people. Do you at times feel you are living in two different worlds?
I was thinking of the various changes that has taken place in the short period of three weeks in my life: Burma; Malaysia; Paris; Miami and now the Indians, and the constant changes I had to make in my thinking to be culturally sensitive and effective in some cases.
It is not that we have to live in two worlds, she corrected me, I have learned certain tools, you can say it is an expertise, which we can borrow from the other culture, so that we can be of better help to our people.
Indians never cease to amaze me and they have always an answer for me, if I am having any sort of emotional and intellectual conflicts. I had a wonderful time in Malaysia/Burma in the company of my Burmese, Malaysian and East Indian friends; then in Paris, a privileged life, but one that I have not integrated very well; to Miami to be with my sister, where I have to reconcile to so many different values: European, Jamaican and strong family systems.. and now with the Indians and thinking of my impending visit to my Little Lovely Island, mi isla rica, mi Cuba.
The lesson learned tonight is as follows, just because you have to surf through so many cultures in such short periods of times, don’t look at them as conflict causing, but look at each occasion as adding to your expertise to live among various cultures. Not all cultural interactions have to lead to conflicts.
I made a mental note to myself, the lack of integration on my part to the French Society is my own doing, in between the eagerness for Malaysia/Myanmar; obsession for Cuba; the desire to serve the Indian people…is my own doing, on my own volition.. it does not have to be that way. All my interactions are cross cultural.. and I have to be thankful for the expertise gained, with no inner or selfish arrogance about any one particular culture…as long as I don’t have a conflict about the cultures that I am comfortable with…
I am happy with cultures which have greater networks of social relationships.. Indians, Cubans, Asians, Jews are all good examples of that..
Thanks for that little lesson, dear friend, In this isolated village of Indians where I am now, far far away from Paris, La Habana or Kuala Lumpur.