My light hearted- extremely awkward life which involves moments like my walking into a glass door.. or trying to leave the super market through the entrance door.. (and it wouldn’t open because its motion censored and I was on the wrong side of the door. ) those moments still happen a lot, but I think my blogs are going to take a more serious turn. Not because my life is worse or I’m unhappy with the situation. It’s just the more I learn here the more I realize that people back home don’t know about Dominican. I would rather not sugar cot life here. Living your life in Canada is not a bad way to live especially if that is all you know. And you shouldn’t ever feel guilty for not being a missionary, I honestly think most people shouldn’t be or shouldn’t try to be. Let’s get into why I say this:
I’ve realized to be a ‘missionary’ (I really don’t like that word) but to be an expat in another country, doing humanitarian work that happens to be at a religious institute- I’ve realized that this takes a special kind of person.
-You need to have a heart that loves strangers unconditionally and care about other people’s problems.
-It is necessary to make meaningful friendships, connections and relationships with many different types of people.
-You must have endless amounts of patience for learning new cultural norms and understanding that people do not know your culture and do not really care to know ‘where you are coming from’.
-You must be incredibly adventurous and be prepared to learn so much about yourself and your emotions.
-It is important that you are out going and not afraid to meet new people and essentially start your life over again.
-Also you can’t be a cultural prick. Stop thinking your culture is superior.
-Humbleness is important, you are living/visiting a new country not saving the world- lets be honest- people in the other country will probably help you more than you will help them. And you are probably not going to do well if you dehumanize people and treat them like they are less than you. (you are probably thinking, how horrible I would never do that.. its pretty easy when you use words like ‘poor’ ‘helpless’ ‘needy’ and ‘unfortunate’ and then groups throw money at the problems)
But I realized that the most important thing is YOUR PERSONALITY AND MINDSET.
The longer I’m here I realize that relationships are essential… but your personality and mindset allow you to fit in or become horribly lonely in your new country. You can have the best intentions in the world but if you can never adapt to your new culture or have a mind that is incompatible with your new culture, you will not do well. This is what I’ve found watching other expats and taking to many different people that struggle here socially with local people. I must say it is not always easy making a friendship with a person from a different culture because you need to explain and learn so much. It will not be effortless. (I am also really trying to write this as neutrally as I possibly can.. which is difficult because it is so difficult for me to think that people don’t have curious personalities and don’t want to learn new languages or live in different cultures. And it is almost difficult for me to comprehend that being an expat here could be a horribly tiresome experience because 95% of the time I love life here.)
This is why I advise 90% of people to not be missionaries. And if you want to do a short-term mission trip (even though I don’t agree with them), follow my above advise of how to be a ‘good missionary’ and you better not give dollar store crap to ‘needy’ children. And then take pictures of them like they are zoo animals and come back and tell everyone that you practically saved the world. This is incredibly cynical.. with so much truth underlying in these acts.
*If you don’t understand why I say this, ask me and I will give you a lengthy explanation of why I believe mindlessly giving is a really the opposite of beneficial.*
Getting back to my above point of changing my writing style to be more educational to readers, I have decided to do this for a selfish and unselfish reason. The selfish reason is when I come back, I don’t think I will have the patience to explain simple things that seem like common knowledge to me, even though it isn’t common knowledge to people in North America. The unselfish reason is, it is important to become aware of another part of the world and think about problems in another part of the world on a more personal level. It is healthy to learn- especially about different cultures. I cannot stress how important I think that is for the mentality of the world. If we were all more understanding of other cultures and types of people.. I think the world would run more smoothly.
So I hope you are prepared to read about feminism, the ethics of missionaries, cultural differences and much more. Also I have started some journalism projects about Dominican for the organization Nexo. When I am done them I will create a new tab just for articles.