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Well, it's not a huge conflict. Both. I'll blog and then call my mom. Last week, my mother turned 82, thank God!
Molly, who ate with us on Thanksgiving, said, "What are you most looking forward to in going home?"
"Seeing my mother," I said right away. My Indian colleagues here never would have left an 82-year-old parent for six months. Never.
I just finished reading a bunch of cultural theory to include in my independent study paper and Hofstede, the originator of the most lasting of the ideas (and an IBM alumnus), says that we're not as alike around the world as most of us would wish.
The difference in family life between my Indian colleagues' and mine are the most striking of all of the cultural differences I've noticed while here. It's true, though, that I'm happier, hunting for common ground than I am, focusing on our differences.
Sometimes, I like having exchanges with people about what's different, but I don't feel great, thinking of all the differences continually, as somehow, it adds distance between my colleagues and me.
At lunch, I was telling Pat that my sister Kathy, having gone to Helsinki for a year on AFS when I was 11 probably made me a lot more open to intercultural learning than I would have otherwise been.
And every December, local AFS volunteers in my hometown, Stamford, Connecticut, would host a potluck dinner. Everyone had to bring a dish from his or her native land. I loved that event.
The Benefits section of the AFS web site has a great slogan: "We relate to each other because we are similar. We learn from each other because we are different."
The other thing I can't wait to get back to is half-sour pickles. Chollo! Time to call my mom.