Jen writes about expectations and Christmas in another part of the world:
It’s a scorching 34°, the sun is shining, summer is just heating up…perfect timing to take out the snowflake-covered Christmas decorations. Wait, what? Snowflakes? Snowmen? Picturesque cottages all nestled in snow and pine trees? With all this heat I doubt even a snow cone would last very long.
All I can say is I feel incredibly sorry for the poor man in a fur-lined Santa suit as I’m sweating in my shorts. He deserves and raise and an ice cream cone.
When I came halfway around the world I guess I expected things to be a lot more different. Don’t get me wrong, South Africa is incredibly unique and vibrant in its diverse cultures, long history, breath taking landscapes, and mix of languages. But no matter how far away it is, Westernization still plays a huge role in modern culture here. It can be seen in the music on the radio (the same I blasted this summer around CA), the hair extensions that look like smooth European hair, face bleach creams, and, yes, even the visions of Christmas. Pictures of snow and pine trees for the holiday sure didn’t originate here, that’s for sure. Oh, and I still haven’t heard anything about Kwanza.
While as Westerners we may not have planned for our culture to be broadcast around the world that doesn’t change the fact that it’s happening. There are always gains to be had from learning about other cultures, but what about when it is one-sided? We rarely see African movies/music/stories/photos (other than those of hungry children and safari animals). What is lost in the process?
There’s no way change what’s happening but we can make it more even—to take the effort to listen to what’s happening around the world, hear their stories, learn from their experiences.
Maybe it’s our turn to return the favor and simply pay attention.