Tag Archives: gender roles

The iceberg and beauty queens

24 May

This was an entry I almost didn’t post. The reasoning being I thought I would have to be bashing my host country

Instead it became a perfect example of the iceberg.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

The iceberg is one of the first things we discussed upon arriving in country. I want to say it was day two. During this prep/pep talk, our Director of Programming and Training Betsy Vegso asked us to make some observations about things we had heard or seen that were different. The call to prayer was new, the way people greeted each other was different, as was how people were dressed, etc., etc.   Being that we hardly left the hotel those first few days it was limited, but it helped prove the point. We were about to encounter a lot of things that were, well, different.

She explained that the things we experience and see are only what is happening above the water. We can’t begin to understand them without further inquiry and taking the time to do so. Every day we see the tip of the iceberg in Indonesia. Yet the bulk of why people do what they do is below the surface. This was our first lesson in cultural adaptation and an essential piece of the pie in living and working abroad. Try to observe without making a snap judgment of what’s below and the reason it’s there.

I forgot about the iceberg. It was lodged somewhere in the back of my head, but I was reminded of it last Tuesday.

My alarm clock had been set for precisely 2:55 a.m. Continue reading