14 August 2012

Cultural Chameleon

Interacting, engaging, and merging with various communities and their cultures remains one of the most illicit and difficult issues to deal with in our shrinking world. Elaborate or complex schemes and models are proposed 'to do the trick'. I add mine with the Macha Works! Model that depicts how activists can position for worthwhile interactions. With various authors, I keep busy drafting texts and finding homes for various papers with findings on the subject matter. For instance, now we aim to publish research theorized in an International Development Model.

It is not only for travellers to have cross-cultural experiences. Cultures travel too. Especially western culture travels to rural Africa via television, movies, education, and Information and Communication Technologies. Thus, even rural Africa has to come to terms with crossculturality.

Deep down in my heart I know it is all boils down to living it. It is about a genuine interest, an unquenchable passion, and a real desire and interest to know and merge with the other, whether in community or as an individual. Such interest is the prerequisite for learning. Further, it is about allowing oneself to live through constant changes in life's perspectives, disrupting one's thinking in line with Paulo Freire jottings “conversation with people requires a profound rebirth”. Engagement needs participation. Participation results in discovering. Discoveries birth change, inside, and outside.

Especially when living crossculturally, as we do in Africa, one has to rebirth into the culture and live. One has to become part of the community, accepted because of being, not because of having.

Now in our international community, we have a whole range of communities with diverse cultures, all of them getting closer and closer to each other. Will it be one culture remaining, will there be conflict, or will it be possible for us to become cultural chameleons? The latter are persons that can live several cultures at the same time. They live the individual shared values, and expected social behaviour in the different circumstances at appropriate times.

It is this ability for cultural chameleonness that is the real challenge. A challenge for which I have not seen much literature yet. Maybe it is not (yet) about literature, as our thinking still is in the phase of defining formal explicit specifications of a shared conceptualisation for this domain. It is still about discovering the ontologies to represent the needed kind of knowledge.

With the void of models, it is very much Show-and-Tell! Thus living the life, showing clear examples of practice of cross-cultural living, role modelling and exposing the personal and material effects of being a cultural chameleon.