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A cross-cultural worker living abroad can be totally absorbed and integrated into the culture of the people with whom he or she ministers. Why or why not?

Having lived in Africa most of my childhood, I feel that it is not possible to ever fully “be totally absorbed and integrated into the culture” regardless of how much you try. “Ethnocentrism is inevitable because humans are socialized to see their way of life as normal, natural, and often superior. Nonetheless, it is important to identify ethnocentrism in ourselves and in the world and work toward reducing it” (Howell, 2017, p. 32).

During our time in Africa, we spent two years in Sierra Leone, two years in Lesotho and a total of four years in South Africa. South Africa was the country I grew to love the most, partly because I was a teenager during the years that we were in South Africa and had many dear friends with whom I spent a considerable amount of time with. I felt fully South African most days until I would make a cultural mistake that would remind me of how very American I was. Though I loved South Africa and was fully immersed within the culture, I was not “absorbed and integrated” into the culture.

Now, however, my question is, am I truly fully American? I was raised in multiple cultures, all while claiming my American citizenship and origin but now that I am living in the United States full-time, I am often reminded of my cultural differences obtained from growing up in Africa. I am assured that the United States is a melting pot of culture and diversity. I am a proud wife of a veteran; we are very patriotic to the United States and so proud to be an American. However, I cannot help but miss my African roots and culture as well.


Howell, Brian and Jenell Williams Paris. Introducing Cultural Anthropology: A Christian Perspective. Baker Academic, 2011. Retrieved from https://app.wordsearchbible.com]


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