Weekly Commentaries

This is Sunday Chronicle's weekly commentaries on various issues of interest affecting the country. All individual commentators are done by elite Papua New Guineans from diverse educational backgrounds.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

"Life in the Philippines"

Home away from home: Culture Shock!

AS I write this article, I am thinking of my country, the land of the unexpected where unexpected things happen and the country of thousand tribes with a composition of variety of cultures and ethic groups. By comparison, I can honestly describe our country as "unique" and a real "paradise" in the Pacific. I mean, you don't see its significance and its uniqueness until you are out of the country.

Quite a number of years ago in the seminary in Rabaul, East New Britain province, my theology professor introduced a missiological term in the Cross Cultural Ministry class that struck home. The term is "Culture Shock." For seminary students undertaking world missions and cross cultural ministry, culture shock is a missional term that describes the reaction of an individual from one different culture or worldview when introduced into a new culture and worldview. A disturbance of mental picture of life!

When I first arrived in the Philippines, I felt culture shock and eventually homesick and hardly coped with the climate and the environment. I had flu and headache as my body could not withstand the transition of the environment. By comparison, the weather in Papua New Guinea is cool and fine. Even as I write this article, the weather outside my apartment is really chilly and irritating. Anyway, I could not manage to sit back and let the opportunity pass as my friends invited me to go to the nearest town.

My first day out in the city was a real culture shock. I could not believe my eyes the traffic congestion coupled with air pollution. Even in the busy streets, people could cross the road and stop fast moving vehicles with a gesture sign of stop... and the vehicles responded! I wondered probably this is the only country on earth where there is no traffic rule. I mean the machines were really careless on the crossing path as though there were no traffic rules! The tri-cycles, the jeepnies, the buses, the motorbikes, the vans and trucks were intimidating and impolite!  However, I managed to maneuver through the busy traffic and got hold of the boys.

We traveled into the busy supermarket and I collected few items necessary for the weekend and returned back to the campus on a tri-cycle. The tri-cycle was traveling at a neck-breaking speed. I could not believe its convenience until I rode on it. It was an awesome experience. While we were riding on the way, I asked how much should I pay for a kilometer? He replied that I would pay 45 peso that is approximately K3. It's expensive for a short distance. So next time you travel from Gerehu to Boroko on a bus, pay 80 toea and enjoy the convenience. In fact, every experience seems to be a shock to me, a culture shock. I guess after some time, I would adapt very well and relate very well.

The writer is a Papua New Guinean student studying Masters in Religion at the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS), Silang, Cavite, Philippines. For comments I can be contacted on email: pamulap@aiias.edu or cell phone (05) (63) 09391773655.

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