Completely Different yet Exactly the Same: My Cross Cultural Experience

10 Jan

Often many individuals forget that humans are more similar than different. In Ecuador, many things are unfamiliar to me. The scenery, the food, the customs, the language and the culture. However on one of our recent site visits, I could recognize something very familiar; the human need to love and be loved and the things we do cross culturally to avoid experiencing our pain.

We visited a site that treats individuals struggling with their addictions to drugs and or alcohol. Our class was fortunate enough to have a few individuals come forth and share their personal stories with us. I was moved by the fact that these individuals’ stories were the same stories I hear from clients that I am working with in the States; processing emotions is difficult for many of us and sometimes avoiding the bad feelings and our personal hurt and pain is the only way many individuals find they are able to make it through the day. Therefore they turn to drugs and alcohol in order to avoid their emotions that can cause them so much hurt and pain.

The individuals stories were similar too, in that they had to hit rock bottom before they were able to seek out or even desire assistance in regaining control of their lives, rather than allowing their addictions to consume them. They spoke about the value they placed upon their relationships they had with their families and their enthusiasm about being able to see their loved ones again. In fact, one of the individuals had earned the opportunity to have his wife visit him later in the afternoon the day of our visit and to see his face light up with genuine enthusiasm regarding her visit was truly heart-warming. The individuals we spoke with were enthusiastic about the program they were in but also acknowledged how difficult the healing process could be. Yet through all of their hardships they were hopeful in moving forward to a happier more fulfilling life and rebuilding their relationships with their loved ones upon completion of the program. Despite all our differences we are more alike than we are different. Ecuador has shown me that we all hurt the same.


4 Responses to “Completely Different yet Exactly the Same: My Cross Cultural Experience”

  1. Dana Anderson January 10, 2013 at 1:44 am #

    Kate- what a great post! It is so great to read in your post the recognition that you have discovered that the human spirit is intrinsic! I love how much compassion you show for others in this post and appreciate the fact that despite differences you have a realization that all human want and need similarly and denying this is a detriment in any culture, society, family or relationship! Your experience sounds wonderful and makes me wish I could have gone on this “class”. Thanks for reminding me and also relating it to your current client experience. I understand exactly what you are saying in this post:) Nicely done my colleague and friend!

  2. Danielle January 10, 2013 at 1:50 am #

    This touches the heart. It goes to show you that even though we are all of different cultures, we do experience the same things. We are not so different after all, if only EVERYONE could see that, there may be no prejudice.

  3. Joy Mason January 10, 2013 at 3:05 am #

    I loved your personal experience and expression, Kate! This is very interesting to me, as someone who has dealt with similar situations. I would be more interested in hearing details about how these other countries actually work in the area of counseling. It certainly does remind us that “it’s a small world after all.” (And is a good reminder to keep personal “pity parties” in check…) Thanks for sharing!

  4. C January 10, 2013 at 3:54 am #

    Very insightful observation!

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