Our mission reads, Partnering with parents to inspire world changers through Christ-centered, intercultural, language immersion education. Every word and component has been intentionally crafted, trying to succinctly express our DNA. I want to do a deeper dive into the “intercultural” word.
Various influences on culture include race, geographical region, home language, educational level, and socioeconomic status (to name a few). You might be interested in knowing CBA’s racial diversity.
With a diverse population, we could have written “multicultural” into our mission statement, which would indicate our desire to be surrounded by different cultures. However, the word “intercultural” more deeply connotes an active engagement between cultures.
If you attended our parent coffee and chat in the fall, you heard my heart on Christian Education at CBA (video). I emphasized how everything derives to the Triune God. I love how Genesis 1 poetically shows the diversity and unity in creation, manifesting the Triune nature of God (3 persons yet 1 God). This diversity is seen in dark and light, night and day, air and land and water, plants and animals, animals unified by kinds, and then man and woman. I love the word Uni-Verse. The unity of this infinitely diverse world broadcasts the glory of the Triune God.
Yet, we see that unity becomes undone when humans turn inward instead of following the outward will of God. Selfishness unraveled the Garden of Eden’s shalom. Quickly we even see murder in the second generation (Cain killed Abel). Millenia later, when we see Jesus coming to undo the curse, and we hear in His great prayer that through His death and resurrection we would be reunited with God and unified with each other (John 17). Basically, He was redeeming us to do what we were designed to do, “Love God and love your neighbor.” However, our inwardness (aka selfishness) sure makes that difficult.
Probably the easiest person to get along with is yourself. Because you are most like yourself. And perhaps it can be assumed that the other people who are easier for you to connect with are people who are most like you (affinities, personality, education level…). However, one way to make relationships more difficult to forge is when we encounter unseen differences. Why does that person approach this issue so differently?
I read hard non-fiction. I want to learn from the deep trials of others. I remember a story recounted from the Rwandan genocide (We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families by Gouretvich). There was a Tutsi family who found out the night before about the genocide that would be unleashed on their people group. The extended family piled into one pick-up truck, ready to make a run for the border. However, I believe it was the great-grandmother who could not get in the vehicle. So the entire family decided to stay and face the bloodbath instead of leaving their loved one behind. Even 20 years later, I am baffled by a sense of family being greater than the sense of self. This cultural mindset is different from mine.
I lived in Venezuela for seven years and have been married to my Venezuelan princess for 14 years. I can attest that culture is truly like an iceberg. The 10% that is above the water does not even begin to indicate what the 90% below the water is like (just ask the Titanic). I remember so many culture shocks when I first moved to Venezuela. I also remember culture shocks that surfaced years after doing life with Venezuelans. And with each shock (lack of punctuality, interrupting conversations, insisting on stopping work in order to eat (or drink coffee) so they can engage with others, getting dressed up even to go grocery shopping, huge (and long) celebrations…), I had knee jerk judgments based on my Spartanburg, SC, white male, university graduate perspective.
You can sooooo easily see the 10% and make judgments before ever diving into the 90% in order to understand what is the foundation. To this day, I still work through lunch, chug my coffee, and often can use a hang-out time to “do business.” 20 years ago I was not aware of my own 90% much less able to articulate it. The more intercultural living I do, the more I start to realize my own cultural foundations (such as my addiction to productivity). Granted I can start knee-jerking my own culture too if I am not careful. But as I grow to appreciate other cultures, they begin to reform me (I hope my Latin relationships are slowly reprogramming me to prioritize the person in front of me!).
The point is this, unity is hard. Yet, that is exactly what the Creator has designed us for. To love others as ourselves. And the more we do “life on life,” the harder it is. However, out of the hard comes great riches. There is a reason most of our neighborhoods and neighborhood schools are segregated. Because it’s easier. But it’s not heavenly. An intercultural school is not a textbook or a month celebration, it is life on life. And in a CBA setting, this gorgeous challenge presents itself with your friends, your child’s friends, and your child’s teachers… So what is the key to untapping the intercultural wealth?
God says it well (through Paul) in Ephesians 4:
2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.
I like how Paul focuses on the positive. However, at the end of the chapter, he tells us what the opposite of living for unity looks like, just in case knuckleheads like me are slow learners:
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.
If my frustration with another leads me to destructive talk, then that will grieve the Holy Spirit. Why? Because the Trinity’s rhythm is unity under His Lordship, and when I use my mouth to bring disunity, I am rebelling against His outward flow.
“Lord Jesus, please forgive me for quick judgments, arrogant pride, and a loose tongue. Be jealous for our School and lead us to be a people who make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit.”
Friends, if you ever see me discrediting your cultural perspective or elevating my cultural perspectives, then please let me know. I want to grow.