I’ve been out of the country a few times, mostly to central or south America, and I loved every place I have visited, but the time I’ve experience culture shock the most was in Cap- Hattian, Haiti on a service trip through my high school. As we sat in the back of a truck holding on as we drove to the place we would be staying , people starred, some yelled “blank Fu,” which in Creole means “crazy white person.” I’m an average to short, light-eyed, blonde haired, white girl, and that was the first time I was an obvious minority in the predominantly black community and “my kind” wasn’t welcome by all.
In the story of the women at the well, in John 4:1-26, Jesus left Judea to go back to the country of Galilee. At that time, Jews (which Jesus was) adamantly avoided Samaria, so traditionally when a Jew was traveling, they would go out of their way through the Jordan River valley on the outskirts of the Samarian boarded to abstain from an interaction with the people. Not to mention it was a more luscious, beautiful site to travel than the never ending dry landscape of sand and shrubbery.
Besides crossing a geographical boarder in to a land most outsiders didn’t travel, now crossing a societal boarder, Jesus crossed ANOTHER societal boarder. He spoke to a Samaritan woman, which in that time, women didn’t speak to men who weren’t in their families. To continue to add to the abnormalities of the situation, it is safe to assume the women he was speaking with was an outcast among the other women in her community. She was getting water at noon, that hottest part of the day, already in a country known for its heat, AND she was alone. Culturally, women would travel together in the early morning and evenings to avoid the heat. Also not helping her case, Jesus points out that she’s been with A LOT of guys. Even in today’s society, we shun the “sluts”, the “whores” and we don’t want to admit it, but even the women working at Hooters. The bible is scandalous! This could be the pilot episode of a new TV show.
This makes me wonder, how many times are we stepping outside of the boundaries society sets, or even the boundaries we set for ourselves? Augustana is an amazing community to be a part of, but every community can become better. Just to name a few possibilities: Greeks and non-Greeks, different Greek chapters, sports, clubs, and even between majors. Myself, I’m majoring in Public Health and Religion and am I involved with Campus Ministries, Varsity Swimming, FCA, Sigma Pi Delta, Residential Life staff member, and then there are a few other things here and there. Augustana students are involved in a lot, but do we hesitate to talk to someone we don’t know? I know I do.
Unfortunately in the world we live in race and ethnicity continues to be an obvious boundary many are trying to recognize and cross. Bringing it back to my experience in Haiti, we worked a long side a group of males ranging from 17 to 30 years of age to build a house for a family in need. I learned so much; by crossing the many borders I was able to see that those guys were so similar to me. They struggled with many of the same societal norms telling them to be something they weren’t.
There was actually a 17 year old girl who looks and acted like a 4 year old due to a disability she had, the other kids wouldn’t play with her and would constantly bully her. In the US, this happens too. There are boarders all over the place, we just need to recognize them and cross them, because that’s where growth and the good of humanity happen.
- Sara Hovren