I live in a multicultural YWAM community where there is often over 20 nationalities represented. Each of those nationalities brings with them their own unique traditions, food preferences, language, and customs. So how do you make it work? How do you not only respect and appreciate each other’s cultures but also learn from one other? Celebrate one another? After living in an international community for over ten years, here are my top six tips!
Learn to say hello to your Swedish roommate in their language. Hop on Google translate and learn a few phrases like “smile” or “you’re wonderful” or “happy birthday.” Write them on post-its and scatter them around strategic places in the house at opportune times.
Add at least 5 different time zones to your phone app so you know what’s happening around the world. This might also help you to be gracious when one roommate is up talking to their family at midnight and the other is up talking at 5am.
Learn to sway your hips to the beat of an African rhythm. It doesn’t matter if you look ridiculous, just admire your friend who grew up dancing to the drums. Remember to smile as you let them teach you, relax and enjoy yourself!
Taste. All. The. Foods. Even if it’s raw fish salad or banana chicken. Yep, they’re both a thing and they’re both delicious. So give it a try, you might even end up enjoying it!
Plan your next trip to visit your friends. Weddings in Vancouver, reunions in LA, couch-surfing in Europe. There’s nothing like sitting on the floor mats of your Papua New Guinean friend’s home, chatting with her aunties, and watching your kids play with her nieces. Seeing someone in their home culture with their family is a precious gift. Planning that trip will tell you a whole lot about their background and force you to ask questions you never otherwise would’ve considered.
Be unified in your common vision. Remember that we are called to a holy purpose together. That purpose trumps any cultural preference you may have. When in doubt, have an international dessert night and be sure to eat your Australian friend’s pavlova. It’s delish 🙂
Are you ready to experience the nations? Sign up for our life-changing Discipleship Training School and make life-long friendships with people from all over the world. Learn more Here
Rebekah has been on staff here since 2005. In addition to being a mother of four, she is on the leadership team for YWAM Townsville and speaks on our training schools. She enjoys adventuring North Queensland with her family and is passionate about seeing people and nations filled with joy and life!