Major events in the world can change a culture, as we have all been experiencing with the pandemic. Some of those changes are temporary. Some of them are permanent. Just as moving into a new culture can create a high level of stress so managing the changes we are experiencing all over the world now can also create a great deal of stress as well. For some people that is paralyzing. For others, it leads to extraordinary creativity.
I love this article about how the tiny town of Tenino, WA (where some of my friends live!) is navigating major cultural shifts and keeping their economy afloat.
Why is it that some people can turn a crisis situation into a positive opportunity while others become stuck or even destructive? There are probably several factors involved.
- An ability to manage one’s emotions. People who are able to make positive adjustments in new cultural situations are able to recognize and understand their own emotions. Rather than letting their fears and frustrations take control, they acknowledge them and learn to manage them in healthy ways.
- An ability to shift perspectives and see different possibilities. People who are able to adapt to new situations are able to imagine different ways of seeing the world and interacting in it. They learn they can make changes without losing who they are or abandoning their values.
- Curiosity about others and a love of learning. People who are able to adapt have a genuine curiosity about the world and love to learn about other people and other ways. In the article above they explain that the idea for printing their own money wasn’t new. It is part of the history of the town. Learning about how people lived at different times in history can be as valuable as learning about people who are culturally different around the world today. It helps us to see different perspectives and imagine different realities.
Developing greater intercultural competence involves all of these and much more as well. These are valuable skills to work on not only if you plan to move into a different culture but even if you live in a tiny little town like Tenino!