Vol. 2, No. 4, Fall 1994, Covering the Former Soviet Union and East Central Europe
Twelve Tips for Cultural Adaptation
The following guidelines for North Americans preparing to teach
journalism in former Soviet bloc countries apply equally well to
Western Christians ministering in the region. The author is a
Bulgarian journalist completing a doctorate at the University of
Before Leaving Home:
After Your Arrival:
Learn as much as you can about the country, including unspoken cultural rules.
Try to understand the mindset of the people, the uncertainty in which
they live every day, their economic hardships, and political
instability. Try to get a feel for where the country is going.
Prepare your business cards, itinerary, and biography in the language of the country you will be visiting.
Source: CFJ Clearinghouse On the Central & East European Press, 14 (June 1994): 206. Edited excerpt reprinted with permission.
Respect people. Be careful not to offend them with anything you
say or do. But don't go to the extreme of apologizing all the
Try to find common ground and establish rapport. For example, talk about your family and job.
No matter how bleak the situation you find, look for positive things to say.
Don't assume you have all the answers.
Be ready not only to teach but to learn. Prepare to get into big
discussions about things you have taken for granted at home.
Avoid promoting yourself or the institution or organization you represent.
Accept it when they don't agree with your points of view. It is
for them to decide whether and how much of what you have to offer will
be useful to them.
Be flexible. Be ready to accept that your Plan A is not
appropriate, Plan B often won't work, and that you will need to have
Plans C, D, and E.
Use your good sense of humor. It translates in any culture.
Khaterina Ognianova, "Twelve Tips for Cultural Adaptation," East-West Church & Ministry Report, 2 (Fall 1994), 5.
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© 1994 Institute for East-West Christian Studies
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