CTurner's Travel Journals

CTurner

  • 26 years old
  • From California, United States
  • Currently in California, United States

Belize!

A blog of my adventures while studying in San Ignacio, Belize.

I am a North American.

Belize San Ignacio, Belize  |  Feb 07, 2011
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 Where I come from... 

A North American mindset.  I have one.  It’s not necessarily a good or bad thing, but I have never been so aware of the fact that I have one.  It was never a conscious choice to adopt this perspective for myself, but it is defiantly different than what I have found here.

Last night Laura and I were discussing the frustrations of the day.  We both had hurried to be on time for something, only to wait for an hour for the other party to arrive.  This in itself was irritating, but the lack of apology for tardiness was also unnerving.  Then Laura had been the assumed benefactor of a meal eaten out, and I had had been targeted by taxi drivers for my light skin.  These experiences are reoccurring, and are beginning to irritate both of us.

I began praying for new perspective on the matter and was reminded of my purpose this semester.  I had to remember that I came here to serve these people.  I should not expect anything from them and be satisfied just to help in whatever way I can.  I cannot expect them to think the same way I do or maintain standards similar to those at home.  This is not my culture, I am the foreigner.  While I may think of a different, possibility better (in my mind), way of doing things, I must keep in mind that it may not be readily adopted.  These people have their own way of doing things, and they have been getting by alright without my suggestion.

Now I realize there is a difficult line between trying to change a culture to make it similar to another, and changing a culture to improve it.  It’s hard to determine the root of all intentions and I feel this is what missionaries must deal with a lot.  

 I am also seeing how misleading the assumptions we make about Belizeans can be and how upsetting the assumptions they make about us are.  There is an American stereotype that I want to fight against.  In some situations I feel that by our skin alone we are automatically assumed to be wealthy and snobbish.  When I watch the tourists cycling through downtown I can see these ideas continuously reinforced.  I am trying to be very cautious of this stereotype, and doing my best to disprove it.  Even down to saying ‘thank you’ each time I get off the bus and looking people in the eye while I talk to them.  I know it is little things, but hopefully they will make a difference in someone’s perception of North Americans.

They think, act, and do things differently here, which makes me realize my North American background.  It’s something that is taking some adjusting too.  So now, please excuse me as I try to get to class, on time.

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