Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Home again...

It's been a week since I got home and I most say that I am loving being back in New Zealand. If nothing else, this trip has given me an appreciation of my home...my very privileged way of living...and my own culture.

Downsides of western culture
I'd be the first to admit that we are not perfect in the western world. We do have lots we could learn from places like Pakistan. I know I sound like a fuddy duddy, but would it do our young girls any harm to cover up a little more than they do now? To be a little more circumspect? And what about the time we spend with our extended families...could we focus more on a community approach to living?

Joys of living in the western world
What I appreciate most about living in a country like New Zealand is that we have the choice. If I want to walk down the street with my g-string hanging out...I can...because it's my choice. You may not agree that it is an appropriate thing to do, but you have no right to imprison me, beat me up or torture me because you do not agree with what I say or do.

Being a woman
The other thing I really appreciate is living in a society where women have equal rights to men. Yes...I know there are still problems with inequality here...for example, pay. But we can come and go as we please, and we have legal rights that protect us.

Being different
The other thing I have realised about my time in Karachi is how lonely it is when you are different to the prevailing culture.... both in terms of how you look and what you say. I have talked about being culturally sensitive or competent, but that is easy to say when you are in the majority.

Appreciation of other cultures
My trip to Pakistan was an amazing opportunity and I am very grateful for it. I have a much better understanding of the culture and way of living which will impact on my teaching and midwifery practice.

Muslim countries such as Pakistan get a lot of bad press. And yes, there are terrible things that happen there. But the majority of Muslems are struggling hard to get by on a day to day basis. They are incredibly warm and welcoming people. They do not deserve to be painted with the brush of extremists or terriorists. They are...just like you and me. The best thing we can do is to support them as much as we can.

Have you ever spent time in a country that has a different culture or language? What has been the lessons you have brought home?


Carolyn Hastie said...

Welcome home Sarah! Thanks for your summary of your experience and your insights. I've worked and lived overseas in different countries with different customs, languages, belief systems etc. The big thing I've gleaned from my travels is that every one of us is shaped (and I mean our brain patterns which lead to everything else, including our perceptions) by our culture, including the culture of our particular family and group of friends.

Understanding that helps me to be much more open to another's point of view, because I realise that everyone is 'right' about their view of their world.

Pam said...

It is always a good experience to feel the otherside of being culturally vulnerable.

It is an eyeopener to feel the fear and unsettledness of being the 'minority' person in a society.

starpath said...

Your experiences in Pakistan culture are interesting and insightful, as was Carolyn’s comment about why our perceptions are so deeply in-grained or you might say ‘in-brained’. Having visited many London playgrounds and also antenatal clinics (with daughter) it strikes me how multi-cultural London is and how midwives and other health professionals might manage to consider cultural differences in their practice. I agree with Carolyn, each person’s perspective or truth is through his or her own lens and experiences. There are many ‘truths’. Dallas

Sarah Stewart said...

And what this trip has done for me is really bring home that truth about multiple 'truths'...so true, especially when talking about religion.