Well, so far so good, but we know how quickly throwing 40 internationals together to live, eat, sleep and create together can go sideways. Self cultures join Incarnate culture, nestled in Kingdom culture, nested in Italian culture. So Orientation Week is a crash course in how to Live Together Beautifully:
Social Policy: romantic entanglements off limits: “Fire in your heart means smoke in your brains!”
"Describe, Interpret, Evaluate." Don't assume or be quick to judge someone's actions or facial expressions (or lack thereof).
The Kolb Learning Cycle: Have an Experience. Reflect on it. Develop a Theory. Test the Theory.
How do you learn best? Activist, Pragmatist, Reflector or Theorist?
Introvert or Extrovert?
Is your culture Reveal or Conceal? Directed or Directive? Informal or Formal? Traditional or Innovative? Time
oriented or People Oriented? Is status Ascribed or Achieved? Is communication Direct or indirect? Turn around and look at whose hand is raised.
As we fumbled through classroom, dining, and bus schedules, we learned the copier, laundry, and kitchen clean up and set up routines. We asked our students, who had just crossed cultures, to manage jet lag, settle quickly into new quarters with a roommate possibly from another country, who maybe doesn’t speak the same language, and may be 4 decades older than you. Eat a new cuisine. Get to know the staff--juggling multiple administrative, relational, technical, teaching, logistical and communication tasks, while wifi and internet blink on and off. Don't forget to goof off!
After a tour of the facility, their studios, and small group meeting rooms, students jumped into a tightly compressed schedule, and joined a small group with whom we hope they will bond over the next three months. They learned we will run "Swiss time," and worship in a variety of styles, and maybe have different theological leanings. Don't be afraid to lean into the differences, and ask questions (employing all the intercultural intelligence you can muster!
Are we exhausted and withdrawing or curious and exploring?
Now we're thinking about supplies to pick up this weekend, or the logistics of taking all 40 of us up the mountain for our first field trip--to the leading high school in Italy for ceramics. The catch: we only have one 9-seater van...
Our students managed magnificently, and today we enjoyed a much-needed Sabbath rest. Where will God take this amazing, dynamic, just-a-bit-crazy community?
God alone knows, but in the meantime, I am daily adding vocabulary to my Italiano: Compro, ogni, ieri, nemici, settamani, al buio, giusto, broccoli, se, utile, Noi abbiamo...
Maybe I'll get to Bancomat tomorrow, or get the laundry done, or set up my art space. But for now, time to call it a day and enjoy the dogs barking till midnight as I drift off to dreams of mountains, mobs and olive groves. Buona notte!