My professor decided it would be great for us to complete a cultural awareness survey as a self-assessment before our trip to Australia. We would then re-take the same survey as a post-test upon our return. The test would not be for a grade, rather it would show our cultural intelligence and whether we actually learn anything about ourselves. She encouraged us to be honest in our assessment so that we can get a true picture of ourselves.
So I obliged, and answered as honestly as I could. There were 70 or so questions and I really expected them to focus on my knowledge of the Australian culture. I assumed they would want to know if I could define a "walkabout" or identify a "billibong" or a "didgeridoo". Wrong! The questions were geared toward me and my understanding of and tolerance for people who are culturally different from myself. Hmmm! Me? Culturally intolerant?
Now, you have to understand, I've lived in the same small town for my entire life. In fact, I've never lived more than five miles from where I live now. I've never done a lot of traveling, although I have visited all the states that border Alabama and have traveled extensively in several South Alabama counties. (okay I see you laughing). I took my first flight at the age of...well...last year. I flew to L.A. (the one in California). What a dose of culture I received there.
I consider myself to be somewhat intelligent, in some disciplines at least. I'm an avid reader, love to learn, watch the Discovery channel, the History channel and the Learning channel. I have met people from other parts of the world. My friend Donna once lived in Iraq and Hawaii. I have a classmate from China. My daughters once went to Nicaragua on a mission trip. Okay, I am being trite, but the point is, I really thought I was somewhat culturally aware. Wrong again.
I scored 25% on the test! OMGosh! Talk about a sobering moment. Have I had my head stuck in the sand for my entire life? I need to get out more. Really! Clearly I have lots to learn about how the rest of the world lives. I've determined to pay attention on my trip and really look at others...watch how they act and react...then notice how I act and react to those around me. Hopefully when I take the post-test it will show that I have gained some measure of cultural intelligence. I'll keep you posted.