Photo by Dias Dos Reis
I have always heard about people experiencing “reverse culture shock” when they returned to their primary culture after spending some time away. I never fully comprehended their experience or feelings, even though I went on many missions trips for 3-4 weeks at a time. But now, I am realizing that until you have experience it for yourself, you will never fully understand it.
Also, the struggle of assimilating back to your primary culture is sometimes directly correlated with the amount of time you have been away. Simply, the longer you have been away, the harder it is (and the longer it takes) to assimilate back to your culture.
Even though we have only been away from the States for one year, my family and I have been experiencing a little bit of reverse culture shock. At first, when we landed in the States, everything seemed so surreal. We knew we were back to a familiar place, but yet things were so different.
Before we arrived in the States, when we were on the runway and getting ready to take off, Christina realized that our kids had tears in their eyes and they shared how they are sad to leave. This is when we concluded that we need another debriefing session with our kids (and probably many more to come in the future).
Once we overcame jetlag, we all went to a park near my parents’ place and we ended up sharing and praying together. Christina and I encouraged our kids to keep a good perspective on things. We have been tremendously blessed with our experience abroad. The friendships that we were able to experience are invaluable. We must always highlight the positives and then prepare for the changes coming up.
Then after our debriefing session, we went out to eat. I think they assimilated to that pretty quickly.
Here are some things to keep in mind with the reverse cultural shock experiences:
2) Keep perspective on things. It is easy to judge or be critical of things back home due to our experience abroad. But we have to realize that people did not experience what you have experienced. Also, we cannot forget that we have all changed; therefore we have to see things with a bigger perspective.
3) Keep persevering in community. There will be times when we will go though depression because whether you feel all alone or you start missing things and people back in the host culture. This is when we need biblical community where people can listen and pray for us.
4) Keep praying for God’s mission. Since we have seen with our own eyes all that God is doing around the world, we have a responsibility to pray for God’s mission. We need to keep on praying for the people and the work to continue so that God’s fame will spread.