|SIT Graduate Institute|
Allowing myself to be vulnerable is something that I choose not to do very often and by partaking in this interview I opened up to an individual that I don’t truly know. Initially I felt fine and I really wasn’t concerned about her thoughts or feelings towards my words. However, later that evening I had this unshakeable feeling of exposure as if someone had opened a window to my heart, gazed in and saw a small portion of my emotional pain. My sense of security was shaken and I needed to re establish it, I needed my people, my confidants, my lifelines so I called them and I began to lick my open wounds. I feel like this process of vulnerability, insecurity and repair is something I often do and it is nice to recognize it for what it is. The final step is a sigh of relief and this takes awhile. In this case it took about a week for me to feel a sense of peace about everything in fact it felt nice to just get it off my chest and let it blow away with the wind.
Being the interviewer was cumbersome. I had my idea of what was really happening in her situation but that was not what she expressed. I really struggled with relaying the information in a manner in which I thought was truthful and telling her story. This was difficult for me because it touched on so many subjects which are near and dear to my heart things that my mother has talked to me about for years. In the end I tried to minimize my voice and interpretations and only enter the story when I could truly expand her words with my own. As someone who enjoys expressing myself through writing this process was interesting and I was constantly re-examining my words.
Our group was able to find so many similarities with ourselves and the author of, Lost in Translation Eva Hoffman. She had an amazing way of telling a uniquely human story despite her ever-changing circumstances. But it was a story about family, friends, growing up, conflict, identity and the subtle yet overwhelming role that language plays in shaping our encounters, emotions, interactions and demeanor. I think she moves in stages throughout the book from arrival in a new country, to adjustment, assistance, ascent and assimilation. Each stage is paired with strong emotions and individuals with strong opinions about her actions or lack of actions.
Exploring cultural conflicts and misunderstandings is like running through dense woods without a path to a street. It is a long, tiring journey both mentally and physically with hills, plateaus rain storms and sun shine. Although I was literally exhausted at the end of the day, I think it was worth it. I am used to stepping out of my comfort zone for many things but I rarely do it on an emotional or personal level. I think the root of so many cultural conflicts is miscommunication, tone, body language, facial expression, preconceived judgments and inner thoughts. Tackling my own inner thoughts is hard and it will take time. But just saying how I feel out loud is even more difficult. I remember saying how I felt during the discussion and then wishing I could disappear so I didn’t have to make eye contact with anyone. Then, after a few moments of staring at my hands I decided nope it’s ok even if not ok it’s still ok. In the end it was it was refreshing to be in a different space and just talk to my group members about life.