The building blocks of culture



This interactive seminar is designed to give people a basic cultural tool kit.  If you are aware of cultural differences but perhaps haven’t thought too much about how it all works, then this seminar is for you.  We’ll build on the work of cultural experts to define culture, note its pervasiveness and chop it up (artificially) into five manageable chunks. Using these, we’ll describe ourselves, think about how we might view the world differently from others and consider how sparks might fly when we encounter people from other cultures in everyday life, especially in church.

  • David Baldwin

    My day to day work is very varied, so I’m virtually never bored, but also never quite on top of things either. Every day starts in more or less the same way, getting my daughter out for school (easy), feeding and walking the dogs (easier) and drinking good coffee (easiest) with my Bible open. My wife, Maura, and I are SIM missionaries, directing a project called two:nineteen, but we are seconded to Oak Hill College, where we acts as house parents and I direct the missions stream. A good day might involve visiting a local church asking two:nineteen for advice about surveying their local community and how best to engage with them. Perhaps they’d be asking about how to start ESL classes, or how to move from teaching English to evangelism, or what church life might look like with more cultures involved. If on site here at college, there would be students to chat to at break times, and sometimes more privately, if there are specific problems to chat and pray about. Maybe a class on culture to teach, or a mission rep. chat to, or a specialist lecturer to invite in. Then there are those dreaded e-mails, of course, which I have come to loathe.

    A notable cross-cultural experience was hurting my dear Ethiopian friend and colleague, Wondimu, by thinking, acting and speaking in a very western and individualistic way about our new car, when it arrived with us in rural Ethiopia. I snapped at him when he kept praising God that ‘our car’ had arrived. ‘It’s not our car, it’s my car. I pay the bills,’ I told him. Weeks later he found the courage to tell me that he understood all that, but merely wanted to share in my family’s joy and how much my words had hurt him. Ouch.