Out and About. . .

April 29, 2006

I’m starting this entry in Amsterdam on a Saturday morning on my way to Limassol, Cyprus. I would like to suggest I’m on holiday, but it’s only a partial holiday as I will be very busy teaching and working on manuscripts. I teach 4 to 6 hours every day, stay in touch with the office, although when the office comes to work it is 3 pm in Cyprus and class begins at 5 pm.

Many are envious of my opportunity to spend time in Cyprus, and I suppose rightly so, but it is not the holiday they think it is. There is a certain holiday spirit that comes from being out of the office and able to take morning walks, not worry about interruptions by students, having time to do some reading and writing, and some relaxation. Yet, I really enjoy working with the students. They are all professionals and have a strong desire to do well in the classes we teach. They all work full-time or more. I admire their commitment and diligence. They are as good a students as I have had anywhere.
Maroc 081
It is the culture that fascinates me. I learn more every time I go to Cyprus, Morocco, or where ever. Sometimes we are wont to say, it is a British thing, or a Greek thing, or a California thing. But, what is a thing? I suppose it is, in part, an outsider’s perception or bias of another culture. We may or may not fully understand the culture, but we make assumptions about the culture and the people represented by the culture. Most likely they are not accurate. They may be a partial representation of the culture and they may be framed from our limited experience. The assumptions are often framed by what others have told us, what we have read, and from what the television has shared with us (rightly or wrongly).

It’s from these biases that when I enter a culture I find myself having to stop and take stock of the people. It forces me almost into an ethnographic approach of trying to observe and learn from the culture. I certainly learn a lot from my students. They are proud of their culture and of their country. They take me to places where I can see the history of their culture, where I can gain a greater feel for it. Had it not been for my very short time in Sparta and Athens and especially in Athens I would never have understood where John spoke to the Athenians about the unknown God and why the location he spoke from was so important to the Athenians. As I see the ruins from various locations in Cyprus I gain a greater understanding of the culture, of how they endured 400 years of Turkish rule and almost 100 years of British rule, and yet retained their strong Greek culture.

So yes, I am out and about and learning as I always try to do. I am anxious to see what this trip has in store for me. (Initially written 15 Mar 2006)

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One Response to “Out and About. . .”

  1. Shirley Says:

    Travel, certainly taken with your frame of mind, is one of the world’s greatest teachers. Thank you for this interesting post.

    Blessings,

    Shirley

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