Inside the box

On the first day of Intercultural Communication taught by B Miller, he drew a large box on the white board in the classroom, and said, “This box represents the things you know for sure.” Next he drew a MUCH smaller box inside the big box, and said, “This box represents the things you’ll know for sure once we finish this semester.” I was in love. We were about to spend four months exploring the tenets of established world cultures and co-cultures. Who wouldn’t be in love?

Thanks to Jane Palmer, I had been swooning over opportunities for critical thinking since my junior year in high school. She, my brilliant AP English teacher, told us on the first day of school that year, “This class is not about learning to write; this class is about learning to think.” With definitions of syllogisms, logical fallacy, and rhetorical schemes and tropes, Mrs. Palmer empowered me to understand language in communication. She lit a fire.

Through “games” and the “men with pointy beards” Todd Sukany, brilliant English professor, introduced cognitive theories about how we humans acquire language, and use it to establish context and meaning. He stoked the fire.

And then B Miller came along with his readings from Samover and Porter and threw gasoline on the fire! With passion I encountered the nations through Hofstede’s comparisons that semester, and watched my big box of what I knew for sure, shrink.

Fire blazing (I can’t shake this metaphor!), I moved across the world to live and teach inside Korea’s rich landscape. Encounters there punctured like dynamite and changed the shape of my box. It’s more like a circle now, and it holds three things for SURE: 1. God is faithful 2. God loves me 3. God is in the nations (and he reveals himself freely through beauty, the fervor of people, and in the absolute creativity of language).

For all three, I just wanted to say, “I’m so grateful!”


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