World Connection in Unexpected Times

At the beginning of 2020, I do not think anyone was making New Year’s resolutions that would fit within the setting of a world-wide pandemic. There is no way we could have prepared for government-forced shut-downs and travel bans that would impact every country at the same time. Every person on earth currently, whether “necessary” or not is being impacted by the introduction of crazy unknowns.

My own experience has been last-minute evacuation and scrambling to make new plans. In January when my husband and I looked at the year ahead, we made plans. We have faced changed plans before, but much like the rest of the world, never had we faced plans that changed to such an extreme. In some ways we were ready. Our children are already homeschooled and my husband and I already work from home. However, evacuation, not being able to plan our travels, and all social interaction being stripped down to nothing were all issues we were facing with the rest of the world.

A World in View

You can relate with a personal story and individual struggles, but I want you to look at a common word I used in the description above: “world.” As someone who explores cultures around the world and wants to learn about all others that share in my humanity, I have found this unexpected time an interesting one. What has been true of this time is that it truly has impacted the entire world. Over the last couple of decades connection has been growing through the internet and readily accessible flights, to the point where global news is at our fingertips now more than ever before. This pandemic has shown that there are things that can make an impact on the entire world.

In other posts on this blog I have shared other ways for your family to explore culture from your home (look here). Those posts were talking about not being able to travel, since travel and diving into a culture physically is the best way to explore a culture. However, since we are all home, exploring culture is not only able to happen from our homes. So, on top of those ways to explore culture from home, I wanted to give some recommendations on thoughts to keep in mind as you explore culture in this time.

  • Our world is more connected than ever.

I know I mentioned this earlier, but since the world is so connected now, most decisions any country makes have an impact world-wide. Though this has been true for a while, it is now more visible than ever with this pandemic. You may be able to see the result now, but allow yourself to think of other applications of this. Think about exports and imports and the policies surrounding those. You can also think about those who work on an international level and those with online platforms for their work that reach beyond their countries. We comprehend of the global impact of our actions than ever before.

  • We can find reliable information if we look, and that can help us learn about culture.

When you are looking at other countries and what they are doing, make sure you find a reliable source. See how each culture is responding. What has the government done in response to what is going on? How are the people responding? Does the response look different for different socio-economic classes? What has the shut-down impacted the most? Some cultures are most impacted in the work force, some in the school sector, and some in the food industry.

See what you can learn by what they are struggling most with. Then, compare their struggles to yours. If you were talking to someone in a different country how would you answer these questions  about your country?

  • Be slow to judge and quick to listen and be patient.

Everyone is responding differently to what is going on. There are varying levels of fear and known information given. Since we do not know what others are going through, whether this comes to loss of loved ones or dealing with trauma with limited access to normal help, we can be patient and kind to all. We also need to listen. Listen to those who are struggling and see how we can help. Listen to the minorities or differing socio-economic classes in our midst, as they have different struggles. Often-times this cannot be done passively. Especially at times of intense turmoil, seek out the ways you can listen and make an effort to find understanding.

  • Embrace the family time!

If you have read any of the blog posts on Nurturing Wanderlust, you know that we promote learning together as a family! Any time a major change happens, that is prime time to devote time to your spouse/partner and children. This time together will look different for each family, but investing that time is always worth it. For our family, we make time for board games when things go crazy. It is a great way for us to use something familiar to spark good conversation. (We use low conflict or cooperative games specifically for this. There are plenty of games out there that are casual and promote good conversation…. maybe not Monopoly.) There are so many good resources these days to promote great conversations. I have seen “conversation” cards or emotion cards to spark good conversations over dinner or an after-dinner treat. Taking the time to listen to the wants and feelings of your family as well as talking realistically about what is going on is simply a good practice to have. Then, go deeper. Discuss with them about how what they are feeling could be similar to or different from the feelings of those around them or those in other countries. Take this opportunity to help them process their worldview well and to also see beyond their worldview.