“The obvious inability of Western culture to understand and take seriously, the experience of other cultures, some of which have been able to provide answers to survival questions radically different from their own, is one of the most serious dangers to the future of our planet» Terrence Heath
When you are preparing to volunteer, it is important to prepare for the culture shock that may affect you. Also, be aware of the stereotypes that may govern you, cultural differences that may be from one country to another, without judging each other and the differences that separate you. You will meet people from other horizons, take into account that if you have prejudices concerning them, they also have some about you.
Participating in an international project (as big as your motivation is) still requires some adaptability. Indeed, your destination will surely impose a new environment in which you have never set foot. An adaptation to the manners, the way of life and even the local climate is necessary so that you can fully bloom in your project. These changes that await you, can be confusing and express himself or herself with anxiety or stress, but do not panic, it is quite normal that the loss of landmarks and familiar environment are difficult to live at first. . However, this change of environment is an exciting challenge you have wanted!
Tips and tricks:
Here are some tips we give to future volunteers to prevent culture shock:
• Before departure, find out about your host country. This pre-departure information sequence will avoid disorientation because of the loss of your usual landmarks and the frustration that may follow.
• If you mentally prepare for the culture shock that awaits you, you will experience it much better. It is a sign of change of scenery and for some people; it is what is more difficult during a trip. However, if you want to love the country that welcomes you, you must overcome it.
• Be patient with yourself, the adaptation is gradual and therefore requires time.
• Avoid hasty judgments of this culture that is different from yours. Be open minded and flexible. Go to people, ask them questions, and be curious. Such an attitude avoids isolation and facilitates adaptation. This process will not happen overnight, but with patience and insistence, you will feel very quickly at ease.
• Adaptation requires adjustments to your everyday behavior and involves many learning. Moreover, you may well discover a new angle and find you hitherto unsuspected skills.
• If you show that you want to learn and do not judge the new culture around you, if you remain open minded and do not fall back on yourself, you will find that you will come to you build a social network little by little. As a result, you will feel less helpless, more competent. You will find a balance between your values and the values you discover in the host society, so that the new one becomes habitual.
• Stay in touch with your family and friends. Write to them about your experiences and problems. This will help you to see more clearly. Writing down your ideas and impressions on a daily notebook can be useful when you return home. However, do not lock yourself in your correspondence with your loved ones; know yourself open to your structure and your host country as well as other volunteers.
In short, the cultural shock can sometimes be difficult to manage for some volunteers, even if for others it will immediately look very positive. However, it must not become an insurmountable obstacle, nor prevent you from blossoming in your project. Anyone going to discover a country that is foreign to him, regardless of the distance separating him from his home, suffers in one way or another a more or less intense cultural shock. Take the time to adapt to the world around you; it will make your trip even more exciting. This momentary change of scenery and the meeting of new cultures are in any case very enriching and rich in emotions.
When you return, you will have done some work on yourself, you will have discovered new facets, and you will have learned to be more open-minded and less judgmental at first. You will have learned to communicate your point of view while understanding other ways of thinking. You will respect the differences of the other, show that you are not there to impose your point of view or come to save the community, but, on the contrary, that you are there to get involved, provide support to build together a sustainable project. You will have shown that with Génération Active you have learned to become a CRACS (responsible, active, critical and supportive citizen).