Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Adaptors, Transformers and the Real Deal


Today marks the last day of our fifth year in Germany. Five years ago we were embarking, not so much on an adventure, but more precisely on a transformation. We arrived to our new home armed with a few electric adaptors and transformers enabling us to use the many electronic devices that we thought we needed. Today we don’t use them much. Most of the things we own have been purchased here and work in the environment in which they have been made to function. We have ceased to cope as though we were on a temporary adventure, and have instead adapted to the culture that we now call our own.

Ironically, we just completed an orientation course that Germany has just recently decided we needed to take to live here. The good news is that five years of intentional integration made the actual course superfluous. We would have passed the test in any case, as it is we aced the test—something our teacher told us few if any Germans could do. We did, however, learn some interesting facts about our new home:

-Even Germans tend to think (erroneously) that their history began in 1933. The course does not mention any history prior to Hitler’s rise to power.

-Despite increasing problem of generations of underperforming, directionless children, Germans are convinced that antiauthoritarian—scratch that—totally permissive parenting is the way to go. They have gone so far as to make it the law of the land. It is illegal to discipline children, and parents are not allowed any say in how their children use they’re state mandated allowance.

-Germany thinks it is a country where church and state are separate, because they say that they are. The reality of the situation is that the country has not only one official, institutional religion, but two.

-Germans by and large are incredibly sweet people. They’re history and opinionated natures tend to make people think the worst, but (perhaps due to that fact) they are incredibly tolerant and understanding and love to help people who want to adapt to life here in Germany.

Any person who wants to be a part of and influence a culture needs to first be a part of that culture. The adaptation process is an important one. In the same way that you need to do away with things that hold you back to the old life and embrace the things that work in the new; it is just as important to adapt your cultural thinking. The best agent of change in a culture is an insider; the second best is an outsider who has integrated.

2 comments:

  1. gut gemacht! (?) or sehr gut! (?)(Papa Bill used to say the second one alot)...Well done!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Congratulations on 5 years. You guys have done well staying faithful to what God has asked of you. And what a great metaphor/word picture of learning to be where you are. I'm still thinking about it...

    ReplyDelete

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