The start of a new school year always puts me in the mood to learn something new. You too?
Here are four fun ways to up your crosscultural game this [school] year, whether or not you’re a student. Here’s to being a lifelong learner!
1. Read a book written by someone from a different background.
When we open a book, we begin a mentoring journey with the author, if we are willing to receive their perspective. Read a novel or a theological treatise–doesn’t matter. When we cultivate the habit of seeking out diverse voices, we will see our perspectives broaden and our empathy increase!
Here are a smattering of suggestions based on my own recent reading:
- Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue (a Cameroonian immigrant family discovers the promises and pitfalls of the American dream)
- Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (or, really, anything by this incredible wordsmith!)
- Jesus and the Gospel in Africa by Kwame Bediako (rich, deep, wise thoughts on contextual theology)
- A Reflection on Diaspora Crosscultural Evangelism: An African Perspective (yes, this is my Ethiopian husband’s book, and yes I’m biased, but seriously you should read it!)
2. YouTube a country you’re interested in.
I give you permission to fall down the YouTube rabbit-hole in the name of crosscultural development!
Maybe you teach English to people from Laos. A quick check of “Laos” documentary” on YouTube yielded many interesting-looking results. I recently searched “you know you’re Habesha (that is, Ethiopian or Eritrean) when” and got many funny clips made by Ethiopian/Eritrean immigrants giving tongue-in-cheek insight into their experiences as strangers in a strange land. While laughing, I learned.
3. Start a language habit.
Notice I didn’t say “Learn a language” because I thought it might intimidate you (and me)?
But learning a language doesn’t have to be this big huge thing–it can be done in a few minutes a day according to my newest app, Duolingo (so it must be true!).
I am late to the Duolingo party, but I am very much smitten with it. If you’re interested in learning one of dozens of world languages, take 30 seconds and get this app! It’s free, it’s fun, and it’s effective!
You can learn language in many other ways, of course, but let’s be honest. Do you tote an Arabic workbook around with you when you’re in the waiting room at the dentist or in line at the grocery store? I venture to guess that you do not.
But what DO you have? Your phone. And that is the beauty of Duolingo–it’s there for you in the little snippets of time throughout the day when you pull out your phone to distract you, and using this app will keep you from the scrolling (looking at you, Instagram!) that we all make resolutions to avoid. Win, win.
4. Cook an adventurous meal.
Is there a food you’ve eaten and loved which originates in a different culture? Have you ever thought of making it at home?
Here’s your project for the semester: resolve to make the very best Korean bibimbap (or Ethiopian doro wat, or Turkish baklava…).
Yes, you could PROBABLY just google a recipe and go to Super Walmart to get your ingredients. But that would not be adventurous, would it?
Instead, I want you to find a friend who knows how to make it (or whose mother could tell them how on WhatsApp if they called her) and ask them to help you. Invite them over for a cooking class.
Even better, go with them to a specialty grocery store (often connected to a cultural restaurant) to get the ingredients. Tell the cashier/owner of the store what you’re doing. Ask for advice. Take your time.
Make the dish and eat with your friend (and maybe invite their friends, too!). A hankering for another culture’s special dish has turned into multiple opportunities for crosscultural connection that will last long after the last crumb is eaten and last dish is washed!
What are some other fun ways to up your crosscultural game? Help me add to the list! I always love to hear from you.
Want more encouragement and practical tips for welcomers? Pick up a copy of my book, Loving the Stranger: Welcoming Immigrants in the Name of Jesus, and subscribe to this blog!