A bridge between Brazil and Norway
I came to Norway as a Hald exchange student in August 2017. I have my practical period in a lovely kommune called Randaberg. Most of the time I have been working at Grødem Kirke, and it has been six months of experiencing the meaning of living out of the comfort zone.
In these months of an intense immersion in the Norwegian culture I have realized that although Brazil and Norway seems to have huge cultural difference at first, they have much in common! One thing is that both Brazilians and Norwegians (at least the ones I met) seek to share good moments with other people.
The importance of spending time
What is perhaps different between these two cultures is the way of doing it: in Brazil, for example, it is not probable that people will gather for skiing – haha! You have the privilege of having a lot of snow here! And in Brazil, we gather and go out after the youth prograam at chruch to eat together. Maybe bacause eating out in Brazil is so much cheaper than here.
But, whether in Brazil or Norway, one important thing is to spend (good) time together.
I believe this is what human beings do: they share.
The values of NMS U are based on sharing: to share faith, time, talents and to share things. They all are important to build relationships that bear fruit in people’s lives, but how to do it when you don’t know people around you?
How to spend time with people from a new culture?
It was difficult for me, at the beginning, to start sharing time with people. Especially with the youth. When you are newly inserted into a new culture and need to start from scratch, you need, for the sake of survival, to take steps toward people. And persist.
I come from a country where, generally, there is always going to be a person who will help the newcomer get involved and “to feel like home” in the group.
I confess that the picture in my beginning in the youth group in Norway was a little different.
How do you share time with others, if your approaching initiatives don’t work as you thought?
This picture is after an activity we did with the young people of our church during the Familiehelg. It was a game called «The Challenge».
The game consists on find a good and effective way to communicate with your team to complete a task. But is not that simple! Is challenging because each person has or lack of sight, or a lack of speaking. Can be very chaotic! Seems impossible to reach the goal, but after a while people star to figure out how to manage. They start to have patience and try to find a solution and reach the objective.
Maybe it’s just like that I was feeling when I first interacted with people at the youth gruop. As in the game where the challenge was to clear up the communication and try to understand each other.
Wait, listen, learn
Just as in that game, over time, I realized that the best thing to do was to wait, observe, listen and learn.
It was then that I began to understand that I needed to change the approach, so then the steps towards the people in that group could be more effective. And it started to happen!
What can we learn from each other?
I see potential in cross-cultural experiences, because we can learn for each other. I dare to say that what Norwegians can learn from Brazilians is how to be more like: “feel like home!” to newcomers!
Surely Brazilians can learn about loyalty and sense of group from Norwegians. These two characteristics match very well.
And for me, a brazilian in Norway, what I’ve learned is that, for me to be able to share faith, things, talents and time, I have to be willing to give up of my prejudice and be honestly curious to understand the other’s reality. Therefore, we’ll able to create bridges… Even between Brazil and Norway. It is worth it!